Taste of Home sees growth

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Reader's Digest Association is raising the rate bases for its Taste of Home and Healthy Cooking magazines in 2009.

Taste of Home, which unveiled a redesign in this month's issue, is bumping its rate base from 3.1 million to 3.2 million in February. Healthy Cooking, a magazine under the Taste of Home brand, will jump from a 500,000 rate base to 600,000 in June 2009. Core readers are women in their 40s who love to cook and hail largely from middle America; the online reader base trends a bit younger.

“Raising the rate base is counter-trend for the industry, but really everything about the Taste of Home brand right now is somewhat counter to magazine trends and very much on consumer trends,” said Suzanne Grimes, president, Food and Entertaining, RDA.  “That's why we're seeing growth among consumers both on newsstands and in subscriptions. Taste of Home is very well-positioned to appeal to the consumer who is staying home more and cooking at home more, so it's actually a high-demand time for us.”

Grimes credited the cross marketing of multiple Taste of Home-branded products, such as special interest publications (SIPs), the Taste of Home Web site and cookbooks, with the brand's continued success. This year, Taste of Home published 44 SIPs, which were sold on newsstands. The brand relaunched its Web site in late 2007, and in the past year unique visitors have grown from 800,000 a month to 2.2 million. Grimes said cross-channel promotion from digital to print has been one of the brand's biggest areas of growth.

“It's getting new people familiar with the brand,” she explained. “We have a sampling mechanism, and the satisfaction level is high so people are staying with that and purchasing other products. With each extension we touch more and more food enthusiasts in the US, and it all contributes to growth.”

The brand also depends on WOM and a cadre of “field ambassadors” across the country to build brand awareness. Next year, as part of this more experiential side of marketing, Taste of Home will expand its cooking school program, which put on 162 classes nationwide in 2008.

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