Marketers, get ready: Your products' performance in Good Housekeeping testing is going public, even if you'd rather it didn't.
GoodHousekeeping.com has started displaying roughly 1,200 product reviews and letter grades in 129 categories, with plans to have 3,000 product evaluations posted by year's end. Readers previously only saw selected results of Good Housekeeping Research Institute lab tests, primarily those for products being recommended in the magazine's print edition.
"For the first time consumers and marketers will be able to see how products were rated by the Institute, not just the products that were rated and then became part of the final print editorial, but all of them," said Mark Weinberg, VP-programming and product strategy at Hearst Magazines Digital Media.
That means consumers can not only see that the Bumbleride Indie Stroller earned an A- in Good Houskeeping testing but that the Uppababy Vista Stroller got a B+ and the Maxi Cosi Loola Stroller only got a C+.
Big brand names also get marks in categories including HDTVs (where contenders all got a B- or better), washing machines (which earned grades from A- to C), razors (none earned a grade below B+) and self-tanners (none got above a B+).
The expanded ratings push Good Housekeeping further into a field of product evaluations already occupied by Consumer Reports and burgeoning consumer reviews on the web. But Good Housekeeping's results are free, unlike Consumer Reports, and likely carry more authority than reviews by strangers on, say, Amazon.com. "There's a raft of research now that all points in this direction, that quality, branded, knowledgeable reviews and authoritative recommendations and research are -- short of the referral from your friend -- probably the single biggest decision driver in the consumer world," Mr. Weinberg said.
Goodhousekeeping.com had 1.8 million unique visitors in August, 35% more than in August 2010, according to ComScore.
Many of its product reviews also include price comparisons from Bizrate.com and e-commerce links. Good Housekeeping gets a modest financial benefit from transactions, Mr. Weinberg said.
New accessibility for Good Housekeeping Research Institute testing came about as part of broader changes to GoodHousekeeping.com, including a redesign, new features and better integration of social-media tools. The site has also been rebuilt in HTML5, allowing it to work well on a range of mobile devices, in a shift that Hearst plans to duplicate at its other sites.