DIY Tries to Woo Women
To appeal better to women, Home Depot has started offering Martha
Stewart curtains in hues of "tilled soil," paint in "cornbread,"
and rugs in colors like "Wilderstein brook trout."
To make shopping simpler
for women, nearly all Martha Stewart Living products carry an icon, such as
a moon or a star, to help coordinate and match items to room makeovers. Of
course, a more obvious part of the women’s push is the Martha Stewart line,
which debuted in late 2009 with patio furniture and has since expanded into
cabinets, draperies, carpets and paint. Lighting, vanity tables and bathroom
décor will be
added this spring.
With major renovations and big-ticket items stalled by a
slow housing recovery, smaller projects are the big focus for home improvement
stores and women are more of the target customer.
"For years, we’ve always had a bad — I don’t want to
say a bad reputation, it’s more that people look at our business and
think it is male-oriented, dominated," Gordon Erickson, the senior vice
president for merchandising and décor at Home Depot, told The New
"Fifty percent of our customers are female. We need to offer her products
that she wants."
Among other like chains, Lowe’s, which claims to
have had a more women’s-oriented focus as part of its founding, designs its
stores with less steel and more wood tones, and "comfort zones" where
customers can review paint samples or remodeling plans.
another effort, True Value recently opened a corporate-owned store near Chicago
touting wider aisles, better lighting and clear signs.
The Times article points to
the challenges the DIY channel has creating a comfortable shopping environment
for women. Lauren Butler, who grew up helping her parents with home improvement
projects, told the Times she was pleased to see
that Home Depot had added Martha Stewart items at reasonable prices. But she
still often feels unwelcome in the DIY channel.
"Sometimes they seem to feel like you’re just a girl, you don’t
know what you’re doing, you need to get your husband in here," said
Ms. Butler. "It’s intimidating for any female to walk into a home
Discussion Questions: What more should home improvement stores be doing to better appeal to women? Is the problem more with products, ambience or service?