Martha to Try On Home Depot Orange

Discussion
Sep 16, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

It’s unlikely that anyone will see Martha Stewart
walking around a Home Depot store wearing one of the chain’s orange aprons
any time soon. What consumers will find in the future is plenty of Martha
Stewart Living merchandise in the chain’s stores now that the two parties
have signed a deal to have the celebrity design an exclusive line of closet
organizers, décor items and outdoor furniture sets for the do-it-yourself
retailer.

The deal between the two parties is said to
be potentially bigger than Ms. Stewart’s deal with Kmart for her Everyday
line. That business relationship, which will end in January, was said to
be worth upwards of $1 billion annually to Martha Stewart Omnimedia.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates,
told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
"The most important thing at Kmart was Martha."

“Our partnership with Martha Stewart is a natural
fit. For years both organizations have been the go-to destination for consumers
seeking ideas and information regarding their home improvement projects,” said Frank
Blake, chairman & CEO, The Home
Depot, in a press release. “Martha and her organization
offer the best, most practical design ideas for customers and together we
will offer unique products at affordable prices, along with enhanced know-how
to help consumers complete any project.”

The first products to launch from the Martha
Stewart Living line will be outdoor items that will hit Home Depot stores
in the U.S. in January 2010 and then rollout to Canada a month later. Outdoor
items will include patio dining and other items priced from $399 to $1,999.
Products in the home organization category will be in stores in February.

Home Depot’s deal with Ms. Stewart is seen
as giving it a leg up in its competitive battle with Lowe’s. The number two
home improvement chain is widely considered within retailing circles to be
more female-friendly than Home Depot despite the chain’s assertions that
the perception does not match the reality in stores.

"Our goal is to get them to stay in the store
longer and have more things to choose from," Gordy Erickson, senior vice
president for Home Depot, told the Journal-Constitution.

Discussion
Questions: What will the deal with Martha Stewart mean for Home Depot
and its competitors in home improvement retailing? Is the Martha Stewart
brand strong enough to change consumer perceptions about Home Depot?

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26 Comments on "Martha to Try On Home Depot Orange"


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Peter Milic
Guest
Peter Milic
11 years 7 months ago

This is a very interesting development for Home Depot. The topic of discussion raises the subject of changing impressions of Home Depot, but I believe this is not the primary issue. The venture with Martha Stewart suggests that Home Depot is recognizing that many DIY projects are driven by and undoubtedly managed by women. Home improvement is not necessarily a construction project such as building a den, moving a washroom, or refinishing a floor. Many projects relate to organizing space and decorating and the Martha Stewart tie-in is fabulous. I can’t tell you how many projects I have completed that started out with ‘let’s put in a new light fixture’ and ended up moving a wall and installing new floor to showcase that damn lighting fixture. I believe the connection to Martha Stewart will help by having consumers think of starting small projects, many of which will become large projects.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 7 months ago
This will most likely be a big plus for Home Depot. Based on the contract deal, it already is a big win for Martha Stewart. Home Depot has long struggled with the image of being a “store for men”. I have met many men who refer to Home Depot as “my favorite store” and “the only place where I like to shop”. I have never met a woman who had anything positive to say about Home Depot – too cold, too masculine, too confusing, etc. One of the factors of Lowe’s success in growing so rapidly against Home Depot’s dominance in the home improvement channel was its focus on creating an environment that was attractive to women. Women are, after all, the primary shoppers. Adding a single brand into a store the size of Home Depot will not guarantee a big lift in sales. If, however, the addition of Martha Stewart is indicative of more attention paid to and investment in creating a female-friendly environment, this could be a big step forward in helping this… Read more »
Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

A good move for both companies: It gives the Martha Stewart brand a more credible outlet (by far) than Kmart, and it gives Home Depot a strong umbrella for launching new product categories. Moving into organization and other “soft home” businesses also helps Home Depot push back against Lowe’s more upscale brand positioning. Finally, it looks like one more step in the continued irrelevance of Kmart.

Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
11 years 7 months ago

Home Depot needs a softer side. Shoppers everywhere need to organize their closets. This is especially true of baby boomers who find themselves nearing retirement in their newly empty nests full of unwanted leftovers. Martha is for the most part is still admired by this group. Martha still is in need of a mid-life kicker of her own after her misdeeds. This might be a perfect situation for all three.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 7 months ago

Where you go and what you do is lesser to the choice of who. And the “who” in this case is Home Depot. So Miss Martha will add some luster to another retailer and increased sales should increase for Home Depot. But….

Martha Stewart Living is aging, getting overexposed and must fight getting classified as being “over the hill” during the next two years. But as of now, Martha and Home Depot seem like a good fit even as time marches on.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Does Home Depot’s perception with consumers need to change? For men, adding a Martha Stewart line will have little impact. If anything, it might be have a negative impact. For women, it provides another brand name to choose from.

Traditionally, retailers have used exclusive designer relationships to differentiate themselves from the competition. This arrangement is no exception. Home Depot will tout Martha Stewart to differentiate itself from Lowe’s, with the hope that it will attract more female customers. It will probably work.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 7 months ago

I’m a big believer in private label and HD doesn’t have a strong program, so using Martha to get on board is an excellent beginning step. I have to question the luster the Martha brand has. Are customers weary because of her past connections with other failed or failing retailers? Or are her own past problems a factor? Of course this provides more questions than answers but anything that improves allocation and merch mix is a step in the right direction.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 7 months ago
I really don’t see this moving the needle significantly for Home Depot for a few reasons. The gravitational pull of the Home Depot brand is simply too strong to allow any other brand in the store to shine. Everything in the store becomes a dingy shade of orange. If anything, being in Home Depot has actually diminished the equity of numerous brands such as Kohler, Ralph Lauren Paint and Stanley Tools, to name only a few. The second reason has more to do with the Martha Stewart brand positioning. This is a brand that resonates (positively and negatively) with Baby Boomers only–whose share of the home improvement market will do nothing but decline over the next ten years. If Martha sold pharmaceuticals she’d have a chance with Boomers. Lastly, Gen Y represents almost 100 million active and soon to be active consumers to whom the Martha Stewart brand means nothing. Even worse, if any o them do relate to the brand, it’s as the “stuff their parents used to buy.” The underlying truth is that… Read more »
Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

A good move all around.

Martha Stewart–contained to the right categories–will be a big plus for Home Depot in converting more women. The boundaries however, must be observed. The core HD shopper is not going to want to hear about “the softer side of Home Depot.” And no Martha Stewart hammers if you please!

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 7 months ago

Overall I think the move is great for Martha and neutral for Home Depot. This relationship would have been better for Home Depot if the Expo division was more successful since it was focused around home decor and higher- end home accessories.

The Martha brand is gaining valuable shelf space in high traffic stores which can only benefit her company and product line. Home Depot will need to modify its assortment and remove some items to fit the new line. The question then becomes what additional lift Home Depot will receive from making this assortment change and will the name brand actually attract shoppers that otherwise would not have purchased at Home Depot? My opinion is the hype is far greater than the actual lift Home Depot will receive.

Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Martha was on CNBC this morning with a customized Home Depot apron which she swore that she wore on her show yesterday. So never say never….

As a shopper marketing person, I say hats off to Home Depot, she’s a franchise player and a good producer of nice products. As a shopper, I wish this were happening at Lowe’s.

It’s such a slam dunk for Lowe’s.

I think the warehouse mentality and the contractor feel of Home Depot will cause some trouble in how Martha’s products are merchandised and may end up being a bit of a mis-match from a co-branded POV. I hope HD opens their minds and gives some serious thought to the design sense her team can bring to the stores.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

I don’t get Martha Stewart and I never have. The only time I hear reference to “Martha Stewart” it is always in derogatory terms, i.e. “It looks like Martha Stewart.”, referencing something the person wouldn’t be caught dead with.

That being said, I assume, lots of people watch the TV show, buy the magazine and purchase the branded products. Therefore, there is very little downside for Home Depot. They will likely generate incremental sales with Martha products. The only question I have is does the Martha Stewart brand collide with the Home Depot brand as a serious DIY retailer?

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Martha’s committed. Her show yesterday featured lots of orange aprons, and a basket of cookies shaped like little hammers, measuring tapes, and levels. The question is whether The Home Depot is committed. Will it provide the service improvements necessary to help women (shopping for home projects) to compete with the contractors in the store?

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 7 months ago
This is another important step in Home Depot’s move to attract more women. The company has made great strides since Frank Blake took over. One important step is making it more “woman-friendly.” 1) The floors have been sealed and the place looks a lot cleaner.2) Aisles are wider and cleaner.3) Employees actually approach you now and ask if you’d like help, rather than running, hiding, or telling you that you’re “not in their department.” Marketing-wise, Home Depot beat Lowe’s to the punch in acknowledging that consumers were trading down and that ATV was going to decrease. While Lowe’s was still showing that awful commercial with the wife and kids demanding everything from a fence, to a new roof, to a new swing set from “hubby,” Home Depot was showing women re-painting their living room with Behr paint. And the combo primer-paint offering (Behr is private label, lest we forget) is certainly not targeted to contractors…it’s pure DIY. Now it’s got Martha. And Martha is a middle class woman magnet. For those who don’t get her…well…she… Read more »
Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
11 years 7 months ago

PR people use them as an excuse for a press release, and retail insiders seem to find them endlessly fascinating. But I doubt the exclusive deals between stores and designers/celebs (or the nuance of which items in their large and ubiquitous product line are “exclusive” to which specific retailer at any given time) is very important to consumers or affects their shopping choices.

Brian Kelly
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Wow, unanimous support for a post-peak tactic in search of a strategy.

Martha didn’t fulfill an empty “in front of the wall” home improvement promise for Kmart anymore than Ty did Sears. Retail brands are more complex to reposition than sticking an icon upon the merchandise assortment.

Folks who trade in those historic fantasies are doomed to repeat them. Alternatively, WOLF within Best Buy shifted the culture, innovated the selling model and delighted the customer. It takes more than a new line to achieve meaningful change.

Or as we like to say: “Retail ain’t for sissies.”

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

I think it’s a good move, but they need to make sure these little oases don’t start looking like the lawn mower isle. I associate Martha with neat and orderly which is a far cry from the typical Home Depot which looks like most garages. If they want to attract the woman shopper beyond accompanying their husbands to buy the needed products to fulfill the weekend “honey-do” list, they need to provide a different experience for her. Should they change the whole store experience to look like a boutique? I don’t think so. How about gender neutral? They need to remember who they are and who their customer is; they are a home improvement and construction products warehouse and their core customer is the male and female DIYer who needs help with most of their projects.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Martha’s programs are always beautifully-executed, impactful, clean and female-friendly without getting girly, all of which will help counteract Home Depot’s still-male vibe. I’ve noticed a major improvement in Home Depot’s service lately so teaming up with Martha might actually start moving the needle.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 7 months ago

Adding the Martha Stewart brand clearly is part of a larger effort by HD to create greater appeal to women. The key will be on how they follow it up. They did not become known as the “toystore for men” for nothing.

Making the store appealing for women will require more than branding. It will require adjustments in merchandising, presentation, and most importantly, the in-store experience. They have suffered tremendously from a lack of knowledgeable, engaging, customer-facing employees. It has hurt them with their male customers; it has been a dealbreaker with women.

Marty Walker
Guest
Marty Walker
11 years 7 months ago

Brand alliance is one thing; in-store execution and the realities of the store culture is quite another. Has anybody been down the closet organizer aisle in a Home Depot lately? How about the outdoor furnishings area sandwiched between the inside store and lawn & garden? This was where the big idea Scotts had for bringing a “revised” Smith & Hawken to HD was going to happen. And does anyone else shudder when hearing the phrase “The Softer Side of…” That doesn’t have a good history to it if I remember correctly.

Justin Time
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

Martha, somehow, always comes out smelling like a rose.

HD already has quite a line of private label including Vigoro, Behr, Glacier Bay, Hampton Bay, etc.

But it has always had a problem in lines that MSL is strong, outdoor furniture and accessories, holiday trees, decorations and ornaments,and decorating accessories.

This looks like a win-win for both.

And don’t worry about Kmart. They definitely got their bases covered with Jaclyn Smith and Cannon domestics, essential home furniture and housewares, as well as Jaclyn Smith outdoor furnishings.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

“Our partnership with Martha Stewart is a natural fit…” said Frank Blake, chairman & CEO, The Home Depot.

As she was for for Macy’s, and Kmart before that… I don’t necessarily disagree with any of these statements, but it seems Martha Inc is a “natural fit” practically everywhere; which, of course, may be exactly the idea she is trying to promote, but it gets increasingly difficult to get excited with each dilution of the brand’s uniqueness…are Martha Stewart Slurpees–in designer flavors no doubt–coming to 7-Eleven soon?

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 7 months ago

This is great for the Martha Stewart brand because Home Depot is a company that is going to be in the marketplace for a long time, and should be able to provide an uninterrupted steady stream of cash.

For Home Depot, this is a great move as it will help them compete more effectively against Lowe’s. For years, Lowe’s has owned the “female” home repair shopper, and the more hammer and nails Home Depot needs a softer image as it looks to capture more of this market. While no one would consider Martha Stewart herself as soft, the product line should have a broader appeal to the female shopper.

Great move for both parties.

Kai Clarke
Guest
11 years 7 months ago

This is a smart move by HD. Martha is a recognized name brand and her products already have a following. Her empire has broad appeal, and displaying them in HD will only help their sales and take away. This is a good thing for both Martha Stewart and HD.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
11 years 7 months ago

Home Depot is buying another “silver bullet.” There is nothing wrong with Martha Stewart but the addition of her product line is not going to save Home Depot. Home Depot should look at its stores and they way they present products. The stores are dingy, the selection is very thin and the store organization is fuzzy. I have found that Home Depot tends to have a better garden department–why don’t they play up their strengths? Also, they could build business in thin departments like appliances by featuring one brand and really using their buying power to offer a high quality kitchen package at a great price. I have seen Frigidaire do this in some outlets; there is no reason HD can’t do the same with Maytag. But this would require work. We’ll just buy Martha Stewart instead and that will fix everything–yeah right!

Debbie Tewes
Guest
Debbie Tewes
11 years 7 months ago

Home Depot has tried to appeal to the female shopper in the past with a small number of their stores referred to as ‘Design Centers’. These stores were approximately 1/3 – 1/4 of the size of the main stores, did not sell any lumber and had a larger focus on gardening and storage. I can recall the Bergen County store in New Jersey closing just 3 years ago because the concept didn’t work. Of course, they did not have Martha Stewart then and this may make all the difference.

The problem I see (with the stores in the same county as mentioned above) is a lack of customer service. I still do not see anyone asking me or anyone else if we need help but rather hear employees rumble under their breath about how unhappy they are. If they do not focus on the female consumer with enhanced customer service, I don’t see this succeeding. I guess we will have to wait and see.

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