The Mantle of “Living” Moves On
~ Amy Lignor
Ask anyone out there – from architects to designers to consumers – what name is most associated with the world of décor and home lifestyles, and they will nine times out of ten say: Martha Stewart. Even when this woman with the slightly ‘gooey’
tone of voice, yet with just a hint of condescension, fell on hard times of her own, people still rallied around Martha Stewart because of the beautiful realms she produced with her Lifestyle Empire.
Martha Stewart Living was in the forefront of all that came along for decades with the newest furniture, her “living closet”, bedding, patio and outdoor style – even the wedding market was something that Martha Stewart Living was a huge part of. But now, Martha Stewart is shedding the Lifestyle/Living crown, selling her company for over $350 million.
Yes, this is not exactly the number she or anyone else thought the Empire would bring. In fact, this is only a fraction of what Martha Stewart Living was worth when at the top of the charts. But from the legal issues that started to bring Martha down to the ever-changing consumer habits, wants, needs and incomes, in some businessmen and broker’s eyes, this is the literally the best price the company could have gotten in 2015.
So, who’s the new “lifestyle” owner? The name is Sequential Brands Group and, oddly enough, they were yet another company that experienced a sharp drop in their own value when they went public in 1999. With the announcement of their purchase of Martha’s well-known company, the buyout news caused shares to fall 14%.
No woes should be had by consumers, however. The deal does state that the lifestyle queen and largest stockholder, Martha, herself, will remain at work as being Chief Creative Officer. According to Martha, she believes this is the perfect title and perfect merger, seeing as that this recipe between the two companies was made to grow and expand on the rare and unique home and lifestyle brands that Martha will continue to watch over and create.
Sequential has not just achieved the Martha Stewart brand. Over time, they have added under their umbrella names like, Ellen Tracy and Avia sports clothing. Therefore, the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia company will be among friends.
Yehuda Shmidman, Sequential’s CEO, pointed out that the brand was still extremely strong and extremely profitable. Reaching over one hundred million consumers, Martha Stewart is a hugely recognizable name. Even with that statement, however, Martha has faced some extremely stiff competition coming from the internet and other lifestyle brands that have climbed up the ranks in the past decade. It is not a shock to learn that with bloggers and the variety of choices people now have out there, that Martha being the “one” person to listen to in regards to the perfect way to decorate a house or throw a tastefully put together event, is over.
In other words, a mantle belonging to “one” in any industry has been swept aside by the internet. And with more choices and advice out there, Martha Stewart Living has seen the loss in profit.
Does her personal legal scandal effect any of this? Not really. Martha Stewart is still a name to recognize offering some extremely amazing products that consumers still want to have. But when it comes to “Living,” Sequential Brands knows that their new addition will need a redecorate and a reinvent time period in order to come out bigger than ever before. Knowing Martha Stewart’s tenacity and intellect, I would place my money on her.