Starting December 20, the line of products will be available at all of Cracker Barrel’s 657 stores across 45 states. It is one of the first big direct-to-retail licensing deals Country Living has produced. Cracker Barrel is the retailer that distributes the collection as well as the supplier.
A few products are already available online at shop.crackerbarrel.com, such as a barn and windmill salt-and-pepper shaker set and a blue splatterware dog bowl. Some are also highlighted in Country Living’s December issue.
“Commerce continues to be a high priority for Hearst, as we continue to hone print and digital strategies to better serve consumers,” Steve Ross, Hearst Magazines’ Global Chief Licensing Officer and head of brand development, told Publishers Daily.
“The direct connection to our audience helps us understand how and why and what they buy,” he says.
Ross says this is because product licensing is an opportunity for “more robust consumer interaction with the brand” than traditional advertising. It is another example of publishers working to diversify revenue “at a time of great disruption in the magazine advertising business.”
Both the Country Living and Cracker Barrel teams “pulled inspiration separately for an inaugural farmhouse collection, and when we met in our Birmingham editorial office to share thoughts, we found a lot of overlap — our barn stars were very much aligned,” said Country Living editor-in-chief Rachel Hardage Barrett.
The collection, described as a line of products with a “modern farmhouse feel,” includes 83 items, such as rustic home decor, kitchenware, hand-made apparel and accessories and toys for pets. Items range in price from $0.99 to $149.99.
Hardage Barrett says one of her favorite items is the cross-stich suck it up, buttercup pillow, as well as the spatterware, which is "on-trend for this audience."
A new theme and products from Country Living and Cracker Barrel is slated to release in 2019, and there is potential for future collections.
Ross said Hearst looks for brand partners that can grow into "long-term" and "sustainable" programs.
Country Living and Cracker Barrel first partnered on “Flip It Forward,” a pancake fundraiser to support military families through nonprofit organization Operation Homefront.
Next year, Country Living is “one of the priorities for Hearst brand development to continue to build and diversify revenue outside of the traditional publishing model,” Ross says.
Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, Men’s Health and Women’s Health all have potential for future licensing opportunities as well, he added.