It is common in our society to say something has a “seal of approval.” That phrase tends to mean an item, a person, a service or an event is fully endorsed and supported by another well-known, highly regarded entity.

Over the years, you have probably heard numerous objects that have received a “seal of approval” from various places. This “seal of approval” could be a brand that has a sponsorship deal with an athlete or celebrity. A parent you know could swear by a certain product that has helped them raise their kids. A certain charitable cause could be endorsed by a federal government agency. The list could go on.

When a product receives the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, you can be confident that the product is high-quality, safe and lives up to its expectations.

Since 1900, the Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI) has been rigorously testing and reviewing items in an effort to find the safest and most efficient products so consumers can be confident knowing they are not wasting their money and have purchased a solid product.

It may sound like just product research, but what the Good Housekeeping Institute is doing is so much more than that. It is actually a real-life example of market research.

What Market Research Does GHI Do?

The first two types of market research that Good Housekeeping Institute completes are extensive product testing and in-depth product reviewing.

The GHI is located on the 29th floor of the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York, and it tests thousands of products every year in its six state-of-the-art labs. These labs are:

  • The Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab
  • The Nutrition Lab
  • The Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab
  • The Home and Cleaning Lab
  • The Textiles Lab
  • The Media and Tech Lab

Since its inception in 1900, the GHI powerhouse research team consists of top-notch engineers, scientists, analysts, chemists, biologists and product experts who rigorously and thoroughly test all types of products with state-of-the-art lab equipment.

The list of products that GHI tests and reviews is very extensive, though it includes:

  • Appliances
    • Dishwashers, vacuums, ovens, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, etc.
  • Beauty Products
    • Lipsticks (liquid and regular), sunscreens, mascaras (waterproof and regular), anti-aging skincare, etc.
  • Cars and Travel Items
    • SUVs and other cars, luggage (including the carry-on type), coolers, mugs, thermoses etc.
  • Clothing
    • Shapewear, bras, slippers, costumes, fabrics, etc.
  • Cooking Tools
    • Blenders, ergonomic spatulas, salad spinners, nonstick cookware, knives, etc.
  • Electronics
    • Wireless speakers, headphones, laptops, newest tech gadgets, etc.
  • Health and Fitness
    • Efficacy of fitness trends, keto diets, health apps, latest fad diets, fast food, etc.
  • Home and Cleaning Products
    • Mattresses, towels, bed sheets, all-purpose cleaners, home and garden tools, etc.
  • Kids’ Items and Toys
    • High chairs, car seats, strollers, crib sheets, cribs, toys and their materials, etc.

GHI’s market research process begins with lab-testing products. The researchers stretch, drop, pull, heat up, freeze and do nearly anything you could think of to products in order to evaluate the safety and quality claims of these products. The researchers try to mimic any situation a real-life family could throw at the products.

Next, the researchers mail the products they are testing to select readers so the readers can test the products and use them in their own homes to see how the products function in real life. (Note:  Good Housekeeping started as a magazine before developing into what it is now. Its magazine is also still in publication. More on that tidbit later.)

Having its readers and real-life consumers test products after the GHI tests them itself is where the true essence of conducting market research comes into play. Once the readers use the products at home, they provide the GHI with their own evaluations and feedback. The GHI dissects this data and research, completes any more evaluations if necessary, then gives a product its seal of approval or explains why the product does not live up to its expectations and hype in a press release and/or article.

Types of Seals of Approval

The official Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on products has been around since 1909, despite the GHI conducting research on products for nine years before that. In fact, there are five types of Good Housekeeping Seals of Approval.

The first type is the traditional Good Housekeeping Seal that has been given to products since 1909.

There is also the Good Housekeeping Innovation Emblem which is given to products and ideas that drive growth and discoveries in research-, health- and science-related fields. There is also the Good Housekeeping Humanitarian Seal.

The Green Good Housekeeping Emblem was created in 2009 and is given to products that prove to be eco-friendly as advertised and its composition, production, packaging and distribution meet environmentally-friendly criteria.

The Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Seal was created in 2016 and is given to those food-products that help consumers simplify and make better informed food choices.

If a product receives any of these seals of approval, GHI endorses its quality, safety and efficacy so much that there is even a two-year limited warranty that comes with the product. If the product defects in any way, GHI will offer you, the consumer, a refund of the purchase price or a replacement product for up to $2,000.

Good Housekeeping’s History

Originally, Good Housekeeping began as a magazine in May 1885 and it was based in Massachusetts. Its mission as a magazine was, “to produce and perpetuate perfection – or as near unto perfection as may be attained in the household.”

The magazine featured content such as news stories, trends, real stories, fictional stories (clearly noted), advice, recipes and product recommendations. Obviously, its target audience was women, but it soon grew into catering to a broader audience once the GHI officially formed in 1900 and its product testing expanded.

Why did GHI’s product testing expand? In the very early stages of the 1900s, electricity was a very new type of technology that was sweeping across the nation. It was becoming more accessible to more and more people. With electricity came the development of brand-new, labor-saving electric home appliances.

Not many average Americans knew how to operate or maintain these appliances, so the GHI tested and researched the best ways to work the appliances and keep them in good shape. The GHI researchers then wrote articles and guides about these appliances and published them in Good Housekeeping.

In 1905, the GHI expanded to testing food for purity. It called its approved list of brands and food, “A Roll of Honor for Pure Food Products.” The list was posted monthly in Good Housekeeping. In 1909, the list evolved into the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Good Housekeeping’s Market Research-Based Influence

Why is Good Housekeeping’s history so important? It is important because it and the GHI have been bettering our society by helping to keep it safe since before the Food and Drug Administration was even created in 1906.

For example, in 1902, GHI discovered companies were using formaldehyde as a preservative in milk, cream and baby food. Its findings were published and the GHI called for people to stop using these dairy-based products if it had formaldehyde in it as the chemical causes serious injuries or even death. GHI paved the way for consumer awareness and product betterment. The use of formaldehyde as a food preservative was eventually banned by the government six years later.

Two interesting findings from the GHI came between 1913 and 1917. In 1913, the GHI discovered the nutritional benefits of whole wheat bread over white bread; white bread was one of the newest and hottest trends in the food industry. In 1917, the GHI was the first organization to show what 100-calorie portions of food looked like.

In 1932, a GHI study was the first to reveal that sugar causes cavities in teeth which causes tooth decay. These findings came out ten years before any other dental organization officially recognized and supported the findings.

One of the biggest influences GHI had on society deals with the dangers of cigarettes. After numerous studies, the GHI banned cigarette ads from Good Housekeeping in the early 1950s due to the health hazards from smoking.  It was not until 1969 that the government passed the Good Housekeeping-backed Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act which banned cigarette ads on TV and radio. Surgeon General warning labels were then put on cigarette cartons.

If it was not for GHI’s market research on the safety and quality of products, some of these major issues it brought to light may have taken many extra years to be exposed or they may never have been exposed at all.

GHI’s methods, research and ethics have withstood the test of time as it has been conducting market research and evaluating products for well over 120 years. It is an organization that has truly stuck to its morals and has helped improve society.

Today, the GHI continues to help consumers find the safest and highest-quality products to use in their homes and around their families. It has given the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to products such as Lysol Smart Multipurpose Disinfecting Cleaner, the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion 2.0 Professional toothbrush, ecobee home security systems, Eggland’s Best eggs, Foodsaver vacuum sealer for food and Huffy bicycles among many, many other products.

When you see the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on a product, you can be confident knowing extensive market research has been done on a product to ensure its quality, safety and efficacy, just as thousands of consumers have seen for themselves for well over a century.