Home improvement retailer Lowe’s is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. You don’t get to be that old — especially in the highly competitive retail market — without building trust among your customer base.
This past week, Lowe’s reported better-than-anticipated earnings and raised its sales forecast from $86 billion to $92 billion. While its biggest competitor, The Home Depot, fell short of expectations for same store sales and declined to provide an outlook for the year.
This jump in Lowe’s sales is a direct result of the company’s efforts to earn the business of home and building professionals… along with the growing number of homeowners who have been snapping up new houses, renovating spaces, and taking on projects. Multiple channel audiences appear to trust Lowe’s, as clearly evidenced by the big box retailer’s latest numbers. And it wasn’t just better lit stores and clean signage attracting DIY homeowners. Pro comps came in at 21% for the quarter and reached 49% on a two-year basis.
So, what is their “secret sauce”? And what can we learn from how Lowe’s is marketing?
A Matter of Influence
One important factor in building consumer trust, that Lowe’s intimately understands… is the power of offering home improvement branding content.
Home improvement shows — like those found on HGTV — are not new. In fact, the genre has been around for decades. But, in recent years, these series have exploded, with the introduction of much loved programs like “Good Bones,” “Love It or List It” and “Property Brothers” among a slew of others. Required viewing, we’d say, in many households.
In the process, the hosts of many of these shows have become bonafide celebrities, most notably Chip and Joanna Gaines, formerly of “Fixer Upper”… who now host their very own channel.
Other content creators and influencers, whose platforms are primarily on social media rather than cable television, have enjoyed similar success.
And a growing number of building product brands are leveraging the influencer trend, including — yep — Lowe’s, which has embraced it in a big way.
The Celebrity Effect
We think the reasons behind this continued popularity of influencer content are reflective of the American experience today.
Besides providing home design inspiration, influencers offer a refreshing escape from the never-ending barrage of charged news and divisive politics that seem to dominate the daily media.
These personalities are now full-fledged members of the cultural zeitgeist… whereas in the past, they might have existed merely on the margins.
At the same time, pop culture icons whose backgrounds lie outside of the home space are also getting into the mix. For example, 90s rapper Vanilla Ice has a popular home renovation program on the DIY Channel.
In addition, shows like “Secret Celebrity Renovation”, where stars have the chance to return some of the support and encouragement they received from a loved one on their way to stardom, are popping up on major television networks. And just released, “Cooking With Paris” shares Paris Hilton’s culinary expertise and kitchen prowess with Hollywood’s most notable A-listers.
Yes, home improvement programming, content and personalities are hot. And leading building product brands are leveraging that popularity. We think few brands are doing branding by influence, better… than Lowe’s.
Big box retailer Lowe’s has long understood the power of home improvement content — and how influencers can lend credibility and authority to that content. So much so that the North Carolina-based giant has actively integrated the influencer trend into their marketing. And product offerings. Really, across their entire branding.
They’ve practically become their own media company, and have — especially within the past year — begun to weave pop culture into their offerings.
In a previous article, we highlighted the retailer’s partnership with “Shark Tank” star and entrepreneur Daymond John. Lowe’s has recently announced that it is bringing back John’s program, “Making It…with Lowe’s,” for yet another season.
The program, which follows a Shark Tank style format, highlights minority-owned businesses. Through the program, entrants are able to pitch their product idea to John and a group of panelists from Lowe’s. The winners will have their products sold at Lowe’s stores.
“Making It” checks a lot of the boxes for smart marketing. It demonstrates the brand’s commitment to supporting minority businesses and communities… reaching far beyond lip service. It’s a transformative experience, not just for the winning company. But for all involved… because it provides tremendous exposure.
The campaign also takes a storytelling approach, which not only makes it compelling for audiences but also generates goodwill along with a positive brand reputation. And the presence of John makes the campaign both engaging and entertaining.
However, like any good network, Lowe’s understands the importance of variety when approaching its home/pop culture integration.
The retailer has also partnered with wellness influencer Hannah Bronfman for the “House of Curators” series of product collections. Through the collaboration, Bronfman shares recommendations for products that reflect a range of different design aesthetics, including “Hamptons Zen” and “Natural and Neutral.”
The collections are intended to give consumers a starting point for selecting products that reflect their own personal style… using the eye of a trusted tastemaker as a guide.
A Trusted Brand
Initiatives involving personalities like John and Bronfman have certainly contributed to Lowe’s impressive forward momentum. The company is enjoying tremendous success — not just in sales — but also in something much more important.
Yes, there’s a compelling reason that recently Morning Consult named Lowe’s among the most trusted brands in retail.
Of course, a lot of things go into building that trust. Including, for example, initiatives such as 100 Hometowns, which was launched by Lowe’s this spring to commemorate the retailer’s century mark. The campaign, which will complete 100 impact projects in 2021, is part of a $10 million commitment to giving back to communities across America.
We believe the company’s practice of leveraging partnerships with trusted and admired personalities in their content strategy and product offerings goes a long way in earning customer affinity and loyalty.
That’s an important lesson that building product brands — and all brands, really — can take from what Lowe’s is doing so successfully. Every marketing initiative, and every operating practice, should not only be evaluated for its ability to engage audiences. But, as well, for its potential to grow consumer trust in the brand.
So, what is your brand doing to earn more trust from your target audiences?
Interested in learning how your building product brand can develop an influencer marketing campaign… that will reach new audiences, grow brand awareness and boost marketing ROI? Send an email to Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org.