Ace’s new tagline hits the airwaves
‘The Home Convenience Store’ stands up against bigger competitors.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware’s latest round of mass advertising paints the picture of Ace as the convenient, local alternative to Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon.
The new ad campaign, form O’Keefe Rehnhard & Paul, includes the call to action: “Around the Block. What you need in stock. With people who know their stuff.” The commercials tagline — “The Home Convenience Store” marks an effort to distinguish the co-op from the likes of Home Depot, Lowe’s an Amazon.
The commercials also play the familiar “Ace is the place” jingle.
The advertising hit national television in late September on networks including USA, HGTV, Food Network, ESPN, NFL Network, Animal Planet and DIY, among others.
Ace’s Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer Kim Lefko explained the idea behind the advertising this way: “Ace is in a very different position than the large-box retailers. We are more about home preservation than big home renovation. This positioning lets us own the easy fix, replace, repair solutions and builds upon Ace’s very unique place as a community focused store that is there with the right advice and products for our customers.”
In a first for Ace, the campaign also uses an array of social and digital online media channels that tell the Ace story from the consumer’s point of view including a mix of canvas, carousel, video and posts on Facebook and Instagram.
“This new multi-channel campaign puts Ace in front of the millennial consumer, enabling us to take our message to new homeowners and a younger audience,” said Lefko. “It also will introduce new customer-centric offerings over the course of the campaign.”
“This is a bold positioning for Ace that directly takes on the competition by celebrating its heritage in helping customers with its convenience and high-touch service,” explained Tom O’Keefe, CEO of OKRP. “It’s not every day you get to create a whole new category for such a famous established brand, but we believe this campaign will help make Ace more top of mind for everyday home solution needs.”
I agree with the customer looking for a more personalized store that they can go into and get help with what they need and most importantly, find new products that can be used around the house for both the homeowner and the contractor.
Navigating a summer of challenges
At the Do it Best Fall Market, an LBM Update included advice for a complex business.
Indianapolis — The lumber and building material team at Do it Best Corp. has been studying the prices of lumber in all of its forms and have seen some interesting results in 2018. For instance, it’s been one of the worst fire seasons ever – a seemingly inflationary situation — and yet the buyers have seen prices go down.
It’s just one example of the complexities of the lumber and panel market that is being confronted with fires, flooding, volatile freight rates, rail car shortages and in even strikes (or the threat of them) in lumber-producing areas. According to Todd Hixson, Do it Best’s divisional manager for lumber and panel products described prices as heading down from a year ago. Yellow pine is higher, but that’s “the only item we track that is not below last year’s prices,” Hixson said.
According to Do it Best’s LBM team, dealers could help mitigate transportation challenges by speeding up the unloading of shipments. Another idea presented was to consider wall panel and roof truss manufacturing as tactics to increase market share and help building customers manage the labor shortages.
Joe Corah, purchasing divisional manager, building materials, purchasing & home décor, described a summer of challenges that also included product shortages, consolidation of distributors and the impact of tariffs.
The impact of tariffs has generated price increases, as well as confusion as to what is a legitimate price increase, and what is not. According to Jean Fahy, divisional manager, building materials sales, a Do it Best merchandising task force has been established to study rpice increases to determine their validity.
“We are behind the scenes, fighting to keep prices as low as possible,” she said.
Also during the LBM update in Indianapolis, the co-op recognized three of its members for their various recent awards. Charlie Gillman of Gillman Home Centers won the Beacon Award for Retailer of the Year. Brenda and Elliott Massey from Agricola Do it Best Hardware & Lumber won the Beacon Award for Best New Store.
And Adam Hendrix of Chic Lumber Company of greater St. Louis was recognized as HBSDealer Independent ProDealer of the Year.
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Do it Best builds on momentum
In turbulent times, a co-op flexes its muscle at its Fall Dealer market.
Indianapolis — Do it Best Corp. amplified its plan to be the first and best choice for independent home improvement here at the 2018 Fall Dealer Market at the Indiana Convention Center. The company handed out more than $100 million in rebate checks to members during a market that embraced a theme of constant improvement.
The co-op promoted its financial highlights for the year — member purchases increased more than 14% to $3.7 billion, up from $3.2 billion in the prior fiscal year. Operating costs for 2018 were a low 1.96%, down from the previous year’s figure of 2.12%.
Sales gains included records in three categories: warehouse, up 5.4%; directs, up 9.2%; and lumber, up 37%.
The member rebate figure surpassed the $100 million mark for the 15th consecutive year. And the message from key executives during the market kick-off event was an encouragement to embrace change to ensure future success and remain relevant to a new generation of customers. Rich Lynch, VP of marketing; and Steve Markley, VP of merchandising, stressed to dealers the importance of reaching customers where they consume media, and maintaining the cutting edge of innovation on their store shelves.
In his annual address to shareholders, Do it Best President and CEO Dan Starr said the co-op has made critical planned investments that include IT programs such as transportation management, order management and a product information database and catalog. The company has also invested in people, particularly in the sales area.
The investments come at a time of high operating expenses, caused by transportation costs and tight labor, and more recently tariff concerns.
“From an expense side, it boils down to this,” Starr said. “There are continued pressures on logistics and labor and some unpredictability with product costs. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re also in an active and vibrant economy. Interest rates are at historic lows. Consumer confidence is strong. And we have many long-standing and brand new members experiencing growth. That’s been good for every member of the co-op.”
Investments have been paying off already, Starr said.
A new transportation management system has effectively removed an annualized driving distance of one million miles from the distributor’s routes. And a nocturnal delivery system called OWL — Orders Without Labor — is gaining interest by tapping the efficiencies of making deliveries to empty stores at night.
On the marketing side, the co-op revamped its approach by creating a consumer marketing department with specialists and representatives to work with members strategically and individually. And Lynch stressed the importance of finding new ways to reach customers.
On the distribution side of the business, Do it Best pointed to steps it is taking to mitigate the pressures caused by driver shortages and economic factors affecting any business that moves products from place to place. The co-op expanded its backhauls program to a larger radius, meaning that fewer trucks return to distribution centers empty.
Also at the Fall Market, the co-op promoted the strength of the community-oriented, independent hardware store to win at retail — especially in categories that require knowledge and advice. “A big theme at the market in addition to all the buying opportunities is the education to stay informed of all the trends,” said Markley. “Today’s consumer is a different consumer from just a few years ago.”
“It’s a big advantage when you have local ownership and you have people in your communities who are the trusted advisers,” Markley said.
Do it Best described its fall market as a way to help members, including new and prospective members, explore the value of a co-op partnership. “We want to make sure that Do it Best members enjoy a distinct advantage with us because it matters in their results – and we believe there’s no better place for them to understand the full scope of that advantage than at the market,” said Starr. “From the industry’s most effective supply chain to our innovative programs and products to our experienced team, we want to be recognized in this industry as the first and best choice for independent home improvement – known the world over for our dedication to excellence and our commitment to helping our members grow.”
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