It’s a fact that when money gets tight, consumers get far more discerning about what they buy, and far less likely to simply splurge before knowing if what they’re buying is in fact worth it. FAIRLADY has, for many years, helped readers make those decisions with its Test House. Now the popular Test House has gone online with its own dedicated site that, as editor Suzy Brokensha says, will act as a “credible filter, providing valuable information in a minefield of content overload”.
With the imminent launch of Good Housekeeping by rivals Associated Magazines, and the interest in the centuries-old “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”, FAIRLADY’s online Test House couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We decided last year on the strategy of shifting FAIRLADY Test House in a digital direction,” said Test House editor, Sally Kramer. “The content obviously lends itself to the medium, and also to mobile, in that reviews could eventually also be accessed on a mobile platform, which you could then access in situ. Where possible reviews can be constantly updated or expanded digitally far more easily and regularly than they can be in print.”
FAIRLADY also wanted to increase its beauty offering in print so taking Test House online would “repurpose” those pages.
Brokensha said that readers spend a lot of time online looking for product information. “But despite all the online ‘information’ available, there is a scarcity of real and trusted local content.”
“The 22 years of hard work by our Test House, in which we have tested products and commented fairly on them, has helped establish a key level of trust with our readers,” she said. ‘This history of providing reliable information and reviews that are credible, honest and fair, means our online users know they are getting information they can trust when they visit the site.
Of course, said Kramer, tests have to be refreshed regularly. “Tests constantly need to be updated because products change all the time – which is why online is such a good medium. Where the time span is interesting is in terms of the trust and goodwill FAIRLADY has built up with our readers over those years.”
The Test House presence in the print editon of the magazine will now be limited to a “single page in which we reveal our top three choices in each category, and point our readers to our online site for further – and more in-depth – reviews and comments”.
About four FAIRLADY staffers from the Test House and Fairlady online teams are responsible for the content and running of the site.
Tasneem Larney and Sally Kramer conduct the tests in consultation with appropriate experts where necessary: Professional chefs for foodstuffs, independent laboratories for some bedding, independent teccie experts for tech gadgets, and so on. “It is liberating for us to be able to choose which experts to consult – we’re not tied in to any one laboratory or knowledge set,” said Kramer.
Will the site take advertising or will that compromise the tests? How does that policy work? “We never take advertising that could compromise the tests in any way. We may take advertising that is not at all connected to the products under review– ie banking advertising,” she explained.
“Test House is part of the FAIRLADY brand, and it makes sense to leverage our content to turn Test House into a unique, daily online experience focusing on news, reviews and user-generated content,” Kramer said.
New content is uploaded at least weekly. “We promote upcoming reviews in the magazine, and use our social media channels to promote and highlight new content. Fairlady has an existing Twitter feed & Facebook page, which will be used to promote relevant Test House content to our followers.”
Test House delivers consumer news, a summary of the new Consumer Protection Act as well as sections such as appliances, electronics, home and garden, kitchen, food and beverage.