The third issue of Goop magazine is themed “Sh-t No One Tells You” — an apt title for a publication that decided to go independent after a year printing under Condé Nast and a company that’s suffered its share of criticism.
Apparently, there were a few things that came as a surprise working under one of the world’s biggest magazine publishers, like not being told where or even how well the previous two issues of the quarterly magazine sold.
Elise Loehnen, Goop’s chief content officer and a veteran of Condé’s now-defunct Lucky magazine, said one of the biggest issues that came up during the “trial period” with the publisher was being refused insight on sales, purportedly due to contractual obligations.
“We didn’t realize how much we would want and need insight into sell-through and we just are so dependent on data,” Loehnen said. “There was no transparency around where it was being distributed and how it was selling and in various markets, in various pockets, from a distribution standpoint, we really need to know that.”
Goop is also making a “significant” push into Europe and Canada this year, with shipping, shops and the magazine all making debuts, making distribution with a publisher refusing insight untenable.
There was also the issue of having two teams working on ad sales and marketing, on opposite coasts and with presumably different views on strategy. Loehnen said she wants to do newsstand takeovers and “make sure [the magazine] is in every wellness spa and vineyard [resort],” something that proved improbable, if not impossible, with Condé. Goop is heavy on experiential, even boasting previously that its growing number of pop-up locations are profitable before they open their doors, but even heavier on consumer data — mining it and leveraging it to plot its next moves. It’s also bringing new features to its third issue — “text to buy” and “text to learn more” for certain pages and products — in an effort to gain even more insight into readers and potentially drive monitorable sales for advertisers. Both advances that seem beyond Condé at this point.
“It was too complicated to try to work that out with Condé and it’s not exactly their business, so it was easier to do it [on our own],” Loehnen said.
The quickie separation was completely Goop’s decision, but also “totally amicable,” according to Loehnen. She cited the continued use of the aesthetic for Goop magazine molded with the help of Condé and Anna Wintour as proof that starting off under experienced eyes had its benefits.
“It was great to be able to lean on them for all of their expertise and have Anna’s eye on it, obviously — that was really critical and important to Gwyneth,” Loehnen said.
Nevertheless, the time came to be fully independent. Goop’s third issue, out Sept. 4, was produced entirely in-house with an editorial staff of about 20 and a new distribution partner in Oehler Media, which gave Goop the flexibility it wants.
Also without Condé, Goop can feature doctors that practice “functional medicine” — an emerging field of alternative medicine that’s either the future of health or the end of it, depending on whom you ask — and their recommendations.
Goop has over the last year stumbled under heaps of criticism, from social media quips to op-eds and blog posts by traditional Western doctors, for allegedly offering up what may amount to herbal voodoo (much has been said of Yoni eggs and vagina steams, but there are months worth of detox meals and enough relationship advice to fill a book by now) in the guise of medical advice.
This is something else the company was not expecting, but is attempting to take the reins of before it gets too out of hand. As part of early plans to expand the print magazine to include possibly seasonal issues or collections of recipes, there’s talk of issuing a science journal with a partner, maybe even Caltech, which could give more legitimacy to Goop’s medicinal leanings.
“Essentially, we stand by all of our content,” Loehnen said of the sometimes fevered criticism against the content that goes up on its site, but has yet to really appear in print. “We’re just trying to do a better job of positioning it so people understand the intent. And we recognize that people are looking at us and we have to be beyond ‘gold standard,’ we need to be absolutely impeccable in how we present information.”
To that end, there’s been a fact-checker brought onto the editorial team, along with a managing editor after the February hiring of Danielle Pergament, another Condé alum, as editor in chief.
Pergament said the motivation behind the third issue, the first issue with Goop that she’s been involved with from the beginning, was simply “pleasing the reader” and admitted that “it’s nice to be inspired again.”
“It’s very liberating to have this agility and know you can just focus on the content,” Pergament said.
While a typical Goop reader may be pleased, it may not be enough to ward off critics. The issue has Goop’s first investigative piece into the increased exposure to toxins in beauty products faced by black women and a series of letters from women, including Drew Barrymore, to their children about what they wish them to know. Both topics sound all too easy for Goop critics to tear apart, if there’s even a tiny opening, although Pergament said the article about toxins was thoroughly researched. There’s something to be said for a company and a publication continuing to take obvious risks after being the subject of countless takedowns, but maybe the risks are just part and parcel to keeping the conversation around Goop going. Business is good and the more who read and hear about Goop, no matter the tone, the better it will get.
As Paltrow writes in her opening letter for issue three, listing some things she was never told, “Competition with others is toxic. Competition with yourself is healthy” is number two.
“Have absolute focus on what you want to manifest,” Paltrow suggests.