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Cooking, décor, and wine top consumer outlet content

1001642905Some of the most popular topics de jour reflect how Americans have been coping with a down economy. From top tier magazines to small new blogs, editors and writers answered the call for budget-friendly content with either a feature article or an entire publication devoted to saving money and trying to find comfort at home and in the kitchen.

More than 200 North American media outlets regularly devote content to the topic of cooking. Take for example Edible Austin magazine, which launched in September 2007. Inside, the magazine features local ingredients and where to find delicious foods.

Meanwhile, readership appears to be on the rise. The New York Times ran a story in May noting that Bon Appétit’s circulation had risen to 1.67 million, though some of that is attributed to absorbing now-defunct Gourmet’s lost readership. In September, Compete released its list of top 10 websites in July noting considerable “traffic increases to bargain shopping sites, health information sites and vegan/vegetarian cooking sites.” Unique monthly visitor numbers to Cooks.com, AllRecipes.com and FoodNetwork.com increased around 16 percent.

Alex Baxter, Mininsider columnist, vice president and general manager of Parade Digital, wrote that August 2010 unique visitors for Epicurious.com and MyRecipes.com had ComScore results showing increases in popularity similar to what celebrity outlets have seen. “Food is what celebrity gossip was just a few years ago: the hot new topic around which to focus a digital media product,” Baxter wrote. “Look for winners to emerge who find the right combination of excitement, practicality and budget-mindedness.” That may have been the thinking behind Record-Eagle’s addition of Rebecca Lindamood, who was added as a “Foodie with Family” columnist in May of this year. The Michigan newspaper also runs a column called Cooks Corner on its website.

BakingBites.com, which runs mouthwatering articles about red velvet cake and white chocolate chip cookies, gets well over a half million hits a month (more during the holiday season). “What I’ve really noticed is that more people take the time to comment when they’ve made a recipe than they did before,” said site owner Nicole Weston in an e-mail interview. “I can’t conclusively say that this is indicative of people taking up comfort-related cooking because of the economy, but I do think that it hints at it.”

Orlando Sentinel’s online columnist Nicole Willis pens the FrugalForce blog, helping readers pinch pennies while still having a life. She has found deals such as where to get a free slice of pie, or free coffee and beer and how to make the food in your fridge last longer. “There has definitely been a trend in people seeking out deals on eating out in the past year, and a huge part of that is due to the rising popularity of deal sites such as Groupon,” Willis said in an e-mail interview. “Groupon’s giving us drastic deals to places near us that we already like, and introducing us to new places that we might like. With more and more sites going up offering the same service, a lot of restaurants that might otherwise go out of business are getting packed with new customers.”

For those who prefer to spend more time at home, whether cooking or doing crafts, there are almost 500 media outlets covering home décor regularly, especially remodeling. Home buying publications such as California Real Estate Journal are no longer in business, and the magazine stated on its website in April: “The publication may be just another example of a business venture that failed to survive in the face of today’s steep economic downturn.”

If you can’t buy a new house, there are almost 200 outlets dealing with remodeling. Network Communications Inc., which produces print and online magazines for the real estate market, noted on its website that out of all its products, the strongest are home improvement publications: “The fastest growing area of NCI, our Home Improvement and Design division features top local and regional design titles such as Home Improvement Dallas, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, Mountain Living and more.”

As the nation’s economy has sputtered on its start back to recovery, American media outlets have kept up with the increased desire for kitchen comforts and budget-friendly living. It will be interesting to see, once the economy has recovered, what topics will have become newly formed habits that hung on in the headlines.

-Rebecca Bredholt

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