Pro shopping habits, take two

Conventional wisdom holds that pros are bound by loyalty to their lumberyard and building supply dealers, a concept bolstered by a recent article “Inside the mind of contractors” (HCN, May 2012).

A recent survey from The Stevenson Co.’s TraQline Pro report shed additional light on the question of where pros shop, and it presents a more nuanced picture of big-box achievement in the battle for pro dollars.

“The question is: What is a pro? That is the key,” said Eric Voyer, VP of The Stevenson Co., which is measuring the purchases of home improvement products among groups, including general contractors, painters, plumbers and landscapers. “What we’re collecting is insight into all pros, anybody who buys a product to be used at a home other than their own.”

That group includes some companies with 1,000 or more employees, but the TraQline survey reaches “small- to medium-sized folks,” he said.

Among this group, The Home Depot leads retail outlets with 36% share, followed by Lowe’s at 25%. Lumberyards combine to reach 6% share among the pool.

But, the bigger or more specialized the pro customer, the less likely they’ll shop the big box. For instance, 44% of electricians make their purchases at specialty supply houses. And among new-housing construction contractors, big-box purchases dip to 12% for Home Depot and 12% for Lowe’s, he said.

Other data from Stevenson’s TraQline Pro survey include:

• Leading store for pro painters: Sherwin-Williams (26%)

• Leading store for pro plumbers: Ferguson (23%)

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