Hardware Retailing

MAY 2013

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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PRODUCT BRANDING TRENDS BY GENDER Category Brand Loyalty Varies by Gender When it comes to home improvement categories, paint, power tools, hand tools and pet products are extremely brand-sensitive with both men and women. Female respondents in our study, however, show a particular brand loyalty to power tools brands compared to other categories while male respondents show more loyalty to hand tools brands than other categories. Capitalize on the Trend Make sure your product mix in these key categories feature name-brand products in a prominent location. Focus on uniquely merchandising these products and promote these assortments front and center on your circulars or other advertising campaigns. Appeal to consumers' affinity for quality first and foremost. You can focus less on price, as respondents say they are willing to pay a slight premium for the brand names they trust. However, you still must be competitively priced on like-branded products within your market and online. According to Post, you should pay particular attention to consistency of brands through graphics, mottoes and logos/marks. "Organizations must win loyal customers from their product branding or company branding," Post says. "Companies achieve a good brand through your commitment to projecting a clear identity and message, consistent use and leveraging of branding assets, building equity through positive relationships and experiences and being relevant and doing what matters to the buyer." For categories that particularly appeal to women, be generous with the lifestyle signage, bright lighting and clean aisles, as these tactics have traditionally attracted the female consumer. For the male-sensitive categories, colors and graphics aren't as important as signage that helps direct the consumer to the product quickly and products merchandised outside of their packaging so he can touch and try out the product he is planning to buy. Consumers Exercise Their Shopping Options Up to one-third of respondents in some product categories say they are likely to go to another retail source if their preferred brand-name products aren't at the first store they shop. We used other product categories to help quantify the respondents relatively. In terms of desire for brands, the home improvement category was second only to electronics in consumers' views. So this means that when purchasing their home improvement products, consumers are more willing than they are in most other categories to specifically seek out ways to find their preferred brands. And while women in general are more likely to turn to another source for the brand they want across all categories, 22 percent of both male and female respondents said they would turn to another source if their first store choice didn't have the brand name they were looking for. Capitalize on the Trend With the ease of product sourcing online and more retailers branching out into hardlines offerings, it will be imperative to make sure you are up-to-date on your inventory controls. 102 HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2013 The risk you face when you are out of stock on an item is far more than just a missed sale. You lose both the reputation for having the products the consumer demands and the potential sales the consumer made in your store then and in the future. If you spend a great deal of time and resources convincing customers you are the market resource for a particular brand, being out of stock or not having the latest products from that brand can ruin that reputation. Also, try to think of nonlinear ways of promoting your product brands. "People are burned out on traditional media.  Social media allows brands to build their own platforms to spread their message and create loyalty rather than pay to use someone else's platform, such as TV or radio," Sawyer says. Retailers can also leverage the fact that they have brand names online using custom-branded virtual storefronts. Integrating these online efforts in-store will also keep the dollars in your store. Have a kiosk in-store or even a service counter workstation where consumers can order and then have the product shipped to the store for free. www.nrha.org

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