Decor attitudes on display
“If your walls could talk,” an annual survey conducted by Masterchem Industries, parent company of Kilz brand primers and paints, turned up some surprising insights into how men and women judge each other based on home decor choices. Sixty-three of the women interviewed said they consider home decor a key indicator of a man’s personality and maturity level; 39% were turned off by posters and sports memorabilia.
Men were almost equally inclined to judge a woman’s personality by her decor. Sixty-two percent of the male respondents also said yes to the “key indicator” question. When asked their color preferences, 66% said they liked neutral walls better than bolds.
Although the current economy has dampened home improvement spending, the urge to renovate is alive and well, according to the survey. Women chose a $5,000 room makeover over diamond stud earrings 85% of the time. When men were given a choice between a $5,000 deck or garage makeover and a watch of equal value, 88% chose the home improvement project.
Perhaps the least surprising result of the survey found that 81% of married or otherwise “taken” men said they would spend time and money on a home improvement project to please a current partner. That number dropped to approximately 50% for single men trying to impress a new love interest.
More than 1,000 U.S. and Canadian homeowners were interviewed for the survey, which was conducted in April 2009.
Ace’s top merchant hints at market changes
In an interview with Home Channel News, Ace’s new merchandising chief John Surane said the Oak Brook, Ill.-based co-op is looking to revitalize its markets.
“Our industry has changed in almost every way, but the co-op show has been the co-op show for many many years,” said Surane, Ace’s VP merchandising, advertising and marketing. Without offering specific plans, he said attendees can expect changes to the look and feel of the markets, including more of a retail orientation with best-practices and management education. “They’ll be some new, fresh events,” he said. “We’re focusing on adding value on our retailers and also for our vendors.”
Surane, a Home Depot veteran who came to Ace Hardware from Bosch Tools a little more than two months ago, described his first 60 days with Ace as demanding.
“We work for the members, and they expect a lot and they desire and expect change,” he said. “I get a lot of opinions I get a lot of guidance, but most importantly it’s all with the right intentions to start a better company.”
In the area of merchandising trends, Surane pointed to the bright spot of green products and energy efficiency. “We have structure designed around this and an intense focus on it,” he said, pointing to the Helpful Earth Choices campaign. “We’re going to be part of the leading edge of this.”
He added that one of the challenges is overcoming the perception of green washing and confusion. “Green is extremely undefined at this point,” he said. “We can’t just claim green because it s a marketing event. It has to be good for the consumer, good for the environment and it has to have real value.”
More and more, the Ace corporate organization is focusing on the consumer and putting itself in the shoes of its retailers. “Our role is much more than providing wholesale goods and services, while that remains very important and is essential to the organization,” he said.
Surane joined Ace from Bosch Tools. At Bosch, he was president of Skil with responsibility for the Skil Power Tool Company across North America for three years. Prior to joining Bosch, he worked for Home Depot in a variety of merchandising roles, including the most recent role as global product merchant. In that capacity, he was involved with approximately $2 billion in sales, representing 50 product categories and more than 200 suppliers.
“There’s a lot of pride winning this award three years in a row,” said Surane. “It’s noted that we stand by core values in helpfulness and customer service.” He credited the people in the stores, and also the vendors.
Best Buy goes outdoors
Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, is venturing into the outdoor living category, according to several news reports.
The Richfield, Minn.-based company has begun testing several product lines dedicated to outdoor living, including grills, pergolas, fire pits, outdoor heaters, lights and patio furniture. The new offerings also include rock-shaped speakers and HDTVs specifically designed for outdoor use.
The products are available in an undisclosed number of California Best Buy stores, as well as on the company’s web site, ranging in price from $11.99 for solar stakes to $5,703.99 for a pergola with privacy wall.
Other recent new Best Buy product categories have included musical instruments and electronic bikes. Best Buy could not be reached for comment on this report.