Archive for June, 2014

Dear Lowe’s and Home Depot: Desperately Seeking (Home) Improvement

Posted on: June 20th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Alice Morgan

My Two Cents

I have researched products sold in your stores for many years.  I have interviewed thousands of builders, handymen, painters, plumbers, and DIY-ers.  Categories include faucets, bath hardware, bath safety equipment, tubs, showers, caulk, power fastening tools, cabinets, and valves.  I am also a homeowner/light DIY-er who has purchased various products at your stores.  Perhaps I am being cocky, but I think I’ve learned a thing or two.  So that all having been said, here are my two cents about the customer experience in your stores.


Gender Gap

Any retail experience is all about the service.  Generally speaking I have encountered more responsive, helpful salespeople at Lowe’s than at Home Depot.  Perhaps this is because I am, to put it baldly, a girl.  I have found in my interviews that men tend to prefer The Home Depot and women often gravitate towards Lowe’s.  You might want to think about fixing this gender imbalance.  Generally speaking it is not a good idea to alienate 50% of your customers.  A friend of mine recently posted this on social media (I repeat with her permission):  “When you are here [Home Depot] all the men start to look the same. T-shirt, shorts and baseball hat.  I think I have called 3 strangers “Honey” so far.  I want to go home.”

thd apron

Pros Don’t Get No Respect

Revenue from trade professionals accounts for 25% at Lowe’s and 35% at Home Depot (Lowe’s, please see Gender Gap point above).  Having said that, Pros may buy from you, but they don’t feel good about doing it.   They feel like they are cheating on their wives.  They feel disloyal to the tool houses, supply houses, and wholesalers that populate their industries.  I’d say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Borrow some of your competitors’ old school tactics.  Think donuts.  Coffee mugs.  Pens.  Perks.

The Quality Problem

There is a perception – which I have heard over and over again, through the years from both DIY-ers and Professionals – that branded products (faucets, tools, it really doesn’t matter what) which are sold at home centers are of inferior quality to the identical branded products sold through wholesale channels.  A marketing campaign aimed at debunking this misperception would be money well spent.

Signing Off

I believe that significant opportunity remains if you are able to successfully solve the three challenges mentioned above.  Sincerely yours, Alice Morgan




Qualitative Research’s Coming Out Party

Posted on: June 10th, 2014 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

At last week’s MRMW conference, I heard something very encouraging. In past conferences, most of the conversation was focused on quantitative data via mobile surveys. It was as if qualitative was invisible, irrelevant or simply didn’t exist. This time around the experience was very different. Yes… there was still a lot of talk about surveys and data analysis. But…there was also a lot of conversation about how mobile, and the emerging wearables category, is allowing us to easily and accurately gather quantitative data –the WHAT– freeing us up to focus on the WHY. That is great news for qualitative researchers.

Mobile is now every bit as important to qualitative research as it is to quantitative research. We are able to capture a “day in the life” over time, rather than solely through a single, in-person visit. Arguably, it’s revolutionizing ethnographic research. Respondents can upload photos, video, audio and text from their phone, wherever they are. We can naturally intercept them using geo-location capabilities for “in the moment” insights. It’s almost hard to recall how we managed before mobile.Geo-Stories Graphic

Even more exciting is the many, many comments about how it’s great to be able to gather so much data, but what do we DO with all of it? How do we make sense of it? Over and over, I heard that we have mastered the art of gathering data, more and more data, to the point of data paralysis. And that we now need to understand the “why” behind all that data; that someone needs to make sense of that data; that the volume is now less important than the insights it can provide.

As qualitative researchers, we know how to find insights in stacks of data. We know how to synthesize it and make it manageable. We know how to bring data to life. So, while there was a lot of “doom and gloom” a few years ago – that technology was going to eliminate the need for market research—what I heard this year is that qualitative is poised to finally have our day.