Stewart's brand weathering bad press storm

After the first week of trial testimony against Martha Stewart, the brand's strength has held up to the prosecution's case and intensified press coverage, according to Brand Keys, Inc., a New York City-based brand-loyalty research consultancy.

Brand Keys has been tracking the strength of the Martha Stewart brand since 2002 when it was one of the strongest in America, then indexing at 120 (baseline 100).

In early January 2004, based on a combination of 2002 accusations and bad press and the 2003 federal indictment, Martha Stewart's brand's strength had fallen to 73, said the consultancy. Two weeks ago, on the basis of questions raised regarding Douglas Faneuil's testimony, the brand's strength moved up to 80, reported Brand Keys. Based on Feb. 9-13's courtroom activities, the Martha Stewart brand's strength moved up again to 82.

"It seems a small move, but it's a significant move for this brand," noted Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, Inc.

"It's based on the customer values intrinsic to the Martha Stewart brand. Even small moves like these show that consumers are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. At least based on the testimony so far."

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, FurnitureToday

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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