More media-branded consumer goods are squaring off against similar products from rival media brands. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is offering a major home and outdoor line in Home Depot next
January. Kmart and Sears stores sell more than 700 home products from Hearst Magazines' Country Living. And Meredith's Better Homes and Gardens line at Wal-Mart has doubled to about 1,000 products
since last year.
The deals can also be fruitful for media companies, which don't have to bear the costs of manufacturing products or running stores. That means potentially high margins. Last year, for example, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia collected almost $33 million in operating income from merchandising, compared with just $6 million from publishing.
But the practice can be risky, with the biggest risks coming from well-established rivals or cheaper competitors in a price-sensitive category, such as home cleaning products.