Home-shopping network Evine Live has never made a habit of trumpeting its holiday plans, at least not in the way that mass merchandisers like Target, Macy's and Walmart do. But after years of turnover at the top and rumors of being a potential takeover target, the Eden Prairie-based company decided to start plotting this year's holiday strategy early: in January.
This week the company announced a campaign that includes exclusive boutique brands and a dozen sales specials that will roll out between now and January 2019 in hopes of drawing shoppers to its cable TV shows, online site and mobile apps.
Among its offerings are an exclusive debut of Paula Deen bath and body products, MacKenzie-Childs hand-painted home décor, jewelry by Kwan Collections and Karl Lagerfeld handbags, which sold out during its recent debut and quickly "exceeded forecasted goals," spokeswoman Liz Joseph said.
In August, Evine brought in a new president, Anne Martin-Vachon, from the Canadian multiplatform e-commerce company Today's Shopping Choice. While there, Martin-Vachon was credited with turning the company around and having "the instinct to curate a product assortment that shoppers want."
Evine considers itself in the third year of a three-year turnaround, and this year's holiday season could be key. With a strong economy and slowly rising wages, retailers are looking for ways to grab consumers' attention, touting exclusive products and special discounts for loyal customers.
Evine is a distant third-place player to QVC and HSN.
"Because of our early planning, we were able to strategically create an exciting assortment across all of our product categories," Martin-Vachon said in a statement. She added, "As storytellers, we are looking forward to bringing these stories to life."
Good Housekeeping seal central to MOA store
Give Good Housekeeping its due. The venerable company published its first issue 133 years ago. Today, it can boast about having the seventh-largest subscriber base of any U.S. magazine, more than 4 million.
Now the magazine has taken its iconic feature, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and opened a store in Mall of America called GH Lab. It's filled with 40 consumer products that have earned the seal.
A few of the products seem newer — a trash can that opens by motion or voice command or the Instant Pot — but others have been around for a decade or more, including Riedel wine glasses, a salt and pepper grinder set and a Roomba vacuum.
Can a store built around familiar products with a seal of approval that many younger shoppers have never heard of still pique consumers' curiosity?
In an informal survey of Mall of America shoppers on Tuesday, few had heard of the Good Housekeeping seal. Bev Olson of Maple Grove was one of 10 who did and also wanted to check out the GH Lab. "I'd go in there," she said. "I like the Amazon connection."
Maybe Amazon will get people through the door if a seal of approval can't.
Consumers who decide they want to buy one of the 40 products in the showroom can pay for them only by using the Amazon app. Tap the camera icon, choose the SmileCode scanner and aim it at the item. The product page pops up and the consumers can add the item to their cart and have it delivered to their home.
Amazon has made no financial commitment to the store, according to Good Housekeeping editor in chief Jane Francisco, but most sellers are subject to fees of 8 to 15 percent for product purchases.
Good Housekeeping may be counting on consumers' love of highly rated products. Few consumers will give any product sold online serious consideration unless it gets a four- or five-star rating. Amazon took advantage of this rating trend in launching its new brick-and-mortar store in New York City called Amazon 4-Star.
GH Lab in Mall of America deserves credit for providing shoppers with valuable information. It deserves even more kudos for the two-year guarantee that all products sold with the seal of approval receive. It's a guarantee that few people know about.
The GH Lab pop-up store will be open on the first floor south between Macy's and Lego through Dec. 30.