Retail

The Playing Field is Wide Open for Home Depot and Lowe’s

Image Credit: Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

Winter may feel like it’s dragging on, but for the building retail industry, the busy season is quickly approaching. When it comes to home improvement retail chains in the U.S., two companies pretty much run the show: The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement. While Home Depot claims a larger percentage of the market share, Lowe’s is on a mission to catch up, hiring thousands of new employees and closing underperforming stores.

Pitting the two competitors against each other, how far does Lowe’s have to go to capture a broader audience? If public sentiment has anything to do with it, which it most likely does, the outlook for Lowe’s is positive.

A CivicScience survey of more than 3,300 U.S. adults revealed that current favorability ratings for Lowe’s and Home Depot are nearly identical. A little over one-half of respondents report “liking” or “loving” shopping the two brands, with a small percentage disliking both.

And when it comes to brand loyalty, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot. About 75% of those who enjoy shopping at Home Depot are also favorable to shopping at Lowe’s as well, and vice versa. While Home Depot may be more favored by professional contractors than Lowe’s, the general public seems to largely be equally receptive to both brands, which is good news for Lowe’s turn-around.

However, that’s not to say that both brands share the exact same customer base. The survey found that Lowe’s is more favorable to adults 65 and older, while Home Depot attracts more of a younger crowd. 

Location could have something to do with why younger adults tend to favor Home Depot over Lowe’s. City-dwellers are more favorable to Home Depot, while those living in rural areas prefer Lowe’s. That could simply have to do more with store location and accessibility than preference since as stated before, brand loyalty isn’t really much of an issue here.

In fact, age and region are the two big demographic idiosyncrasies that may be driving customer preference to one brand or another; the survey shows that gender and income levels look nearly the same for both brands. Yet when it comes down to it, even age and regional differences aren’t all that significant.

In other words, the playing field is wide open for these two competitors, as both Lowe’s and Home Depot work on defining themselves in the midst of a lagging industry. Of course, online shopping has a role to play here. Focusing on its online presence while re-thinking the brick-and-mortar experience is already on Home Depot’s agenda moving forward.

Looking at how the two brands fare in terms of online versus in-store shopping, the survey found that both Home Depot and Lowe’s are favorable to more than half of heavy online shoppers. In fact, they are favored the most by those who split their shopping between online and in stores. Lowe’s, however, appeals more to in-store shoppers than Home Depot, which makes sense considering that Lowe’s also appeals more to older adults.

Despite Home Depot’s greater market share, the two brands are neck and neck when it comes to favorability. It will be interesting to see if that changes under Lowe’s new management and a rapidly-evolving retail environment.

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