Where to begin with Martha Stewart, “Queen of All Things Domestic”? She’s a person, of course, but she’s also a brand. She’s been a model, stockbroker, caterer, author and TV and radio personality, and is the founder of the multimedia and merchandising empire called Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She’s also a convicted felon. Most importantly, she was a guest last December on an episode of The Simpsons, doing a very funny parody of herself.

Because she has such a high profile, and such a distinctive personality, consumers’ feelings about her as a person affect their feelings about her products (most of the time; some people can separate the two). So it’s unavoidable for this netnography to be as much about Martha as about her products.

Positive Themes
People love the Martha Stewart brands, including glitter, punch, flannel sheets, pumpkin carving kits, closet systems and much more.

  • So easy if you use 1/8″ Scor-tape! Make sure you burnish it down well, trim off the edges and then peel off every other piece of tape. Martha Stewart glitter is great because it comes in so many gorgeous colors. This pic is after the brown has been applied but before the gold glitter hits the scene. (source)
  • Really enjoy my Cricut Cake. Everyone should have one. The Martha Stewart Edition is great because it comes with exclusive cartridges that Martha selected. I can’t wait to use it again. (source)
  • Mandy’s Picks . Martha Stewart Collection Flannel Bedding. I love my Martha Stewart flannel sheets because they are such high quality. My mother and law bought us a set 3 years ago and they still look brand new and they are super soft. They don’t get bally after a few washes like the cheap sets do. (source)
  • Consumers also applaud her for having great ideas—and she certainly has a lot of them. (Reminds me of a favorite quote, from Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”)

  • October 7, 2010 1:07 PM ? Melanie said… Martha Stewart always has great decorating ideas! Though that first picture of the ghost coming down the walkway looks eerily CREEPY!!! October 8, 2010 1:32 AM. (source)
  • Martha Stewart always has the best ideas. Even a non-sewer like myself could make this sweet little bunny! With different fabrics, the possibilities are endless! (source)
  • Her recipes are also favorites with consumers—and more than one mentions they like listening to her talk.

  • I love Martha Stewart’s recipes! I also like the soothing sound of her voice. I guess that may be weird but that’s cool. (source)
  • Negative Themes

    On the negative side, there’s Martha’s well-known conviction and jail time in 2004 for obstructing justice and lying to investigators about a stock sale. Consumers haven’t forgotten, and many hold it against her.

  • Martha Stewart was stupid and greedy. The small amount of money she gained from this deal was relatively speaking an incredibly small percentage of her net worth. To not just admit what she did, and pay the penalty was one of the dumbest moves ever! (source)
  • A third Enron executive is now sitting in a jail cell,. Rolex Submariner and one WorldCom top dog has been arrested. Even Martha Stewart has finally been indicted. It’s about time! Too many have turned a blind eye to these cases. (source)
  • Not everyone is enthralled by Martha’s recipes.

  • I made another Martha Stewart cupcake. It sucked. I would definitely not make it again. Definitely, definitely. (source)
  • Some consumers like Martha the person and all she stands for, and others don’t. Negative comments include “she scares me,” “she irritates me,” and “ she intimidates me.” This poster expresses a fairly common reaction to a woman whose approach to life seems out of touch with that of regular people.

  • I resent Martha Stewart. It’s not because she’s managed to make a career of staying at home baking cookies and making pillows; it’s the way she implies the rest of us should be finding time to do this, too. When my alarm clock begins it’s annoying plea for me to pry myself out of the bed at 6AM, I rarely greet the day with love and creativity. (source)
  • Here’s a tweeter who can separate Martha the person from her products.

  • I dislike Martha Stewart. Her personality, her voice, just everything about her. But her recipies are fantastic. (source)
  • And here’s one who can’t.

  • I have never liked Martha Stewart. Think she is full of it. There is no way I would buy one of her products and contributed to the royalties she earns. (source)
  • Insights

    Looking at the big picture, the overwhelming majority of positive comments are about Martha’s brands, ideas, recipes and products. The majority of negative comments (66 percent) are about her as a person, because people think she’s irritating, scary, untrustworthy, intimidating or boring—and a criminal.

    So should she dissociate herself from the brand? Well, after her conviction, she resigned as head of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which comprises publishing, broadcasting and merchandising businesses. Although she resigned her formal leadership position with the company, it’s not possible to separate her image from the brand’s image, because it’s really all about her creative vision and personal sense of style and taste.

    As for insights, all that comes to mind is that Martha is a polarizing figure, not just because of her crime, but because she’s a successful, beautiful, confident, creative perfectionist. You either like and admire that or you don’t, which often determines your decision to buy or not buy her company’s products. It wouldn’t be possible, or even desirable, for her to stop being who she is in the hope that that would help her company sell more products. It wouldn’t, because to a very large degree, her style and image is what makes the company’s products as successful as they are.

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