The backyard shed is getting a makeover. The marquee categories of spring season outdoor power equipment (leaf blowers, pressure washers, mowers and trimmers) are seeing changes on two major fronts: type of features and channels of distribution.
The mass channel is seeing resurgence in outdoor power equipment (OPE) activity. Particularly in pressure washers, up year-over-year from 5.7 percent share to 11.0 percent share; and riding mowers, up from 4.0 percent to 8.0 percent. Across the major categories, mass merchants gained 2.8 percentage points. (See chart 1.)
The NPD Group attributes that gain to the mass channel’s ramped up merchandising efforts around the categories, as well as their related merchandising efforts around outdoor living in general, including outdoor fire pits and outdoor furniture.
“The other factor is the 18-to 34-year-old consumer seems to prefer the mass merchants,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. “And they represent the demographic that is increasingly moving into home ownership.”
Given the steady stream of green promotions at retail, gas-powered products are seeing a plateau or decline in popularity, based on the consumer research—though the combustion engine continues to dominate the walk-behind mower category (see chart 4). Among riding mowers, the zero-turning-radius mower is the new kid on the block, accounting for almost a quarter of units sold in 2007. (See chart 5). Zero-turn share has grown from 18.5 percent in 2006 to 24.0 percent in 2007.
“Home owners are increasingly looking for professional grade equipment,” said Delaney. “Zero-turning radius mowers have traditionally been used by pros and have now caught on with consumers in a big way.” It doesn’t hurt that “zero-turn” prices have come down significantly, he said.
The data also suggests that the wealthy OPE customer isn’t the powerhouse demographic, compared to other sectors. The $100K and above segment is handily outspent by the $45K to $74.9K segment. (See chart no. 8)
“That stands to reason,” said Delaney. “The higher income bracket usually has pros take care of their landscaping for them.”
The largest seasonal jump in unit share occurs in the trimmer category from 17.6 percent in the first quarter to 36.3 percent in the second.
Electric mowers are up 2 percentage points, accounting for 8 percent of the total market.
Backpack blowers showed a significant decline in dollar share—from 20.9 percent of leaf blower sales in 2006 to 12.9 percent.
NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service is based on monthly tracking of 30,000 opt-in respondents in 70 categories. The data above reflects the period from January 2006 to December 2007.
Orchard Supply names new execs
San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) has announced the appointment of Robert Burgess as associate vp-consumer marketing; and Janis Healy as associate vp-visual merchandising.
Burgess has a 20-year career in developing consumer strategies, having held senior marketing positions with Verizon, West Marine and major consumer marketing agencies, including Rupp Collins and Bunn Forbes.
Healy has a 30-year career of leading store theater and visual brand positioning at several retailers, including Petco, West Marine and Best Buy. Healy most recently served as associate vp-visual merchandising and store design at West Marine.
Both positions will report to Tom Carey, chief marketing officer at OSH.
Sears launches ‘ReImagine You’ campaign
Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears has launched a new marketing campaign in an effort to boost excitement about the brand in the wake of the company’s less-than-optimistic year-end financial results.
The campaign, called “ReImagine You,” launched March 1 and will run to the end of May. The push is aimed toward helping consumers find interesting and economical ways to improve their homes.
“ ‘ReImagine You’ aims to inspire imaginations and provide the tools and advice to make practical dreams a reality,” the company said in a release. Specifically, the company plans to use spokespeople including Eric Stromer, host of HGTV’s “Over Your Head,” and Ty Pennington, handyman for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
Sears has launched a Web site, reimagineyourself.com, featuring tips from Stromer, Pennington, NYC interior designer Eric Cohler and an expert on “green” home improvements, Deborah Barrow.
The company also plans to renovate the homes of 70 veterans of the armed forces on April 26 as part of National Rebuilding Day.