Are magazine pop-up shops a thing?
Hearst certainly seems to think so, having launched its inaugural Marie Claire: The Next Big Thing future retail experience a year ago, with the next iteration reportedly scheduled to go live before the close of fall fashion week in New York City.
Seizing the opportunity to translate yet another magazine brand into a real-world experience, the publishing conglomerate announced its GH Lab pop-up at The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., giving shoppers the opportunity to experience the venerable Good Housekeeping brand and interact with its trusted product recommendations up close.
Visitors to the three-month-long GH Lab will encounter 40 curated products put through the paces by the Good Housekeeping Institute’s chemists, tech experts, scientists and engineers. Staffed by institute-trained employees, GH Lab takes a “best of the best” approach, featuring just one product category instead of the multi-brand strategy typical of a retail experience—each either a Good Housekeeping Seal holder, Best-of-the-Test winner or GH Lab pick. Brands on display range from Vitamix and thinkbaby to OtterBox, home automation brand ecobee and Fishers Finery, which offers high-quality cashmere apparel and silk pillowcases. Inside the 2,800-square-foot pop-up, shoppers can see the products displayed in various “rooms,” helping them to gain a sense of how each item would work in their own abode.
Riffing off the showroom experience, GH Lab will stock no inventory, instead directing visitors to pull up the Amazon app and scan a product’s SmileCode, which directs them to the corresponding product detail page on the e-commerce site for checkout and delivery options. The magazine seems to be banking on a growing consumer preference toward waiting a few days for an order to arrive rather than toting merchandise around the cavernous mall.
Customers who prefer to shop from home can find the GH Lab online at amazon.com/shop/ghtested.
An Amazon spokesperson said customers have scanned SmileCodes in various places including at events and in magazines to unlock exclusive content, access product detail pages and shop. However, the GH Lab partnership marks the first time in the U.S. that customers have been able to shop a curated selection of products in person with SmileCodes. The Amazon partnership enables GHI Lab to offer a broad selection of Good Housekeeping Seal holders, Best-of-the-Test winners and GH Lab picks in one location—while providing convenient doorstep delivery to customers.
Lindsey Benoit O’Connell, special projects director for Good Housekeeping, told Sourcing Journal that The Mall of America’s popularity with tourists and travelers was a driving factor in the Amazon partnership, noting the shopping center expects footfall as high as 14 million visitors over the course of the three-month pop-up.
“As many are tourists, we wanted everyone to be able to shop the store—but not limit their shopping experience due to travel,” Benoit O’Connell explained. “We needed a back-end retailer that could help bring this to life—and carry the breadth of all the products we are showcasing in the store.
“Additionally, not all of GH’s audience of 44 million will be able to visit the Mall of America, so we worked with Amazon to create a digital boutique, so anyone can shop at any time,” she added.
Good Housekeeping said the pop-up will receive new institute-approved products through its run into December, with online exclusives available through the Amazon storefront. Editor-in-chief Jane Francisco said the magazine is “beyond excited” to partner with Amazon and The Mall of America in creating a reimagined retail experience.
“Each day, our expert scientists test hundreds of products to ensure they perform as promised and the GH Lab helps take the guesswork out of shopping,” Francisco said. “This innovative store showcases a genius selection of products for the home, new technologies and inspired holiday gifts. Everything in the store has been carefully curated and vetted by GH experts—so shoppers will not only be excited by the fabulous finds but leave with confidence in their purchases.”
Benoit O’Connell said the magazine has been forging this partnership with The Mall of America for close to two years. “As this is a robust endeavor involving the GH Institute and the rigorous testing the Labs perform, the process was more involved than a typical pop-up,” Benoit O’Connell explained. “Good Housekeeping readers and advertisers alike have been asking for a retail experience with the GH Lab-recommended products for years—and the synergies between Mall of America, Amazon and GH were a perfect combination.”
“The key to success for Mall of America is constantly innovating and testing new ideas that elevate the retail and entertainment experience,” Jill Renslow, senior vice president of business development and marketing, Mall of America, said in a statement. “The GH Lab is a one-of-a-kind concept that redefines shopping for our guests and creates an exciting and seamless consumer journey.”
The experience created by Good Housekeeping and Amazon represents “a unique intersection of online and brick-and-mortar shopping,” Renslow added.