Lowe’s television campaign flexes new muscles
There’s nothing unusual about Lowe’s advertising to sports fans. Just ask Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson.
But there’s something strikingly different about the latest Lowe’s television commercial that aired repeatedly during the height of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Here’s the difference boiled down to a single word: "testosterone."
No dancing families here. The commercial depicts men, some armed for demolition, taking their manliness to new levels during an outdoor home renovation project.
Lowe’s declined to elaborate on its strategy behind the spot. But the new emphasis on the male consumer is obvious.
It’s a universally accepted retail maxim that women drive purchase decisions, but there are some things that men buy more. A 2009 "Gender Roles in Home Improvement" report from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) identified nails/screws/anchors as the most masculine merchandise in home improvement, followed by lumber (See chart).
Pushed to find differences between the two giant home centers, retail analysts have often played the sex card — Lowe’s caters more to women, Home Depot more to men. But the reality is more complicated. For instance, if you want Martha Stewart, you go to the orange-colored home center.
The Lowe’s commercial further complicates the overall perception of home center masculinity by concluding: "Every weekend is your chance to take the field." You don’t have to be a man to appreciate the message. But it doesn’t hurt.
Phoenix rises again on home price index
It stands to reason: The pool of consumers willing to invest in home improvement projects dramatically swells when home prices are increasing. Under those conditions, not only does a new kitchen look nice, it promises a nice ROI.
That’s why the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, released late March, was hailed by the industry as a positive sign. Not only did two widely watched indices of home prices climb to the highest marks since the burst of the housing bubble, but all 20 cities on the list posted year-over-year gains — eight of them in the double digits.
At the top of the list were markets that were among those hardest hit by the bust — Phoenix, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Here are the 20 cities and how their January 2013 level increased over the January 2012 level:
At Legislative Conference, dealers get the word out
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lumberyard owners and suppliers focused on three wide-ranging front-burner regulatory and legislative issues during the 2013 Legislative Conference here in the nation’s capitol.
Reform of the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead paint rule was among the three high-priority items, along with preservation of the mortgage interest deduction and creation of online sales tax parity.
The talking points emerged as NLBMDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ben Gann briefed lumberyard owners and their suppliers on some of the major regulatory and legislative issues facing the industry. A detailed overview of the issues preceded an afternoon of lobbying on Capitol Hill.
The NLBMDA has a long history of objections to the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP). It was introduced in 2010 and requires remodeling and renovation firms that perform work on pre-1978 housing to be EPA-certified. And the firms must keep records of the project for three years.
The NLBMDA supports the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act, which has two key provisions: 1.) It restores an opt-out provision for homeowners in households with no pregnant women and no children; and 2.) It creates a time frame for the EPA to develop a test kit that is commercially available and meets the EPA’s own standard for false positives.
In addition to adhering to good common sense, reinstatement of the opt-out rule, according to the EPA’s estimate, would save $336 million, Gann said.
Another interest of the housing industry is the preservation of the mortgage interest deduction, Gann said. "In many ways this is a critical piece to our housing policy," he said.
Gann said misperceptions linger over the deduction. "It’s not millionaires living in vacation homes on the beach," he said. "Two-thirds of the benefits are claimed by those making $200,000 or less." Even the deduction for mortgage interest of second homes plays an important role, he said.
The third high-priority issue dealt with a level playing field for retailers and online merchants. According to the NLBMDA, far too many online-only retailers are not collecting sales tax at the point of purchase, putting local retailers at a competitive disadvantage.
The NLBMDA supports the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), but Gann said it’s important to understand that support of it is not an endorsement of a new tax.
"This tax already exists," Gann said. "It’s a tax that is already owed. It just allows states to go and get that tax money.
"What the MFA is trying to do is fix the system," he added. "If we don’t do something, it’s just going to get worse. Online transactions keep going up. This is revenue that the states are owed but they are not getting."
Before the dealers took some of those talking points to Capitol Hill, he offered lobbying advice: "Be firm but polite. Obviously not everyone is going to agree with us on every position."