Marketing Tool Brands: It’s a Strong Remodeling Market. Seek Insights. Get Aggressive.

How to Approach Tool Branding & MArketing

In the aftermath of the 2008 housing crash and subsequent recession, the U.S. construction industry is in recovery, as seen with the rise housing starts (25.5% increase in October, 2016 vs. Prior Month – Source: U.S. Census Bureau).  The remodeling market has bounced back faster and stronger than housing starts, which naturally drives a rebound for tool brands.  But if you’re a tool brand looking to do more than realize a modest uptick and aggressively capitalize on this remodeling upswing, what can you do? Take a look at how we approach marketing tool brands during a booming remodeling market.

As marketers, we look to insights to guide our strategic thinking in answering this question and shaping plans.  For this blog we tapped into the  Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University research on Emerging Trends in the Remodeling Market.



Baby boomers, American’s between 52 and 70 years old (representing 40% of the U.S. population or 75 million), account for almost half of remodeling spending. These are people in or nearing retirement.  Not surprisingly a disproportionate number of baby boomers live in the southern or warmer parts of the country. Characteristics of this generation include high disposable incomes, they have a high acceptance for innovation, busy and full lives, value hard work, they are comfortable shopping and browsing online but prefer having one-to-one interaction so go in-store to compare and purchase, they tend to stick to traditional social media sites like Facebook, they love coupons, and are very active even in retirement.


  • Segmentation. In general, market/audience segmentation is a good practice.  It allows for more precise messaging and targeting.  The Baby Boomer market is likely not appropriate for every tool, so think through which projects are important to them (e.g. bathroom remodeling), along with the right tools for those jobs. It will ultimately help identify the tools in your portfolio are in their consideration set.
  • Breakthrough Messaging. Personalize tool brand marketing messaging to Baby Boomers to highlight the features that more directly benefit them (e.g. ergonomic handle on a screwdriver, time savings of a laser level, etc.). Make sure you are comparing your messaging to what your competitors are saying.  Ensure that you have a clear point of difference and break through the clutter.
  • Story-telling. Utilize story-telling to relate to the Boomers. Most homes are owned by those over age 55 and lack the key features that promote accessibility. So, creating content, including video, that conveys how the audience can improve their home experience with small projects utilizing your tools can make a big impact on how they feel about your tool brand and entice purchase.  Think out of the box but stay relevant.  Lowe’s executed a successful Vine-based fix-in-six video campaign (you can check out the case study here).

    It’s like home improvement meets Tasty. They are genius.  When the Retailer made the move into Manhattan, they took the fix-in-six concept to the store windows, but featured videos that all helped Manhattanites living in small spaces. Brilliantly breakthrough and great way to market tool brands!

  • In-store Experience. Optimize your offering and merchandising in Home Depot and Lowe’s locations in the southern states.  Encouraging the touch/try experience when marketing tool brands is a great strategy.  This allows customers to put your products in their hands and allow them to easily decide what is right for them.  Always keep the 4 C’s of merchandising in mind: Command Attention to let the boomers know you are there; Connect with the Boomer audience with both relevant imagery and copy; Convey Information by telling the audience a compelling story; Close the Sale by eliminating any purchasing doubt (and possibly reward them for doing so via a discount or coupon). Here’s an example of a Kobalt 1/4 pallet display at Lowe’s that does a good job of the 4 C’s, including having the product out of box for the touch-try experience that helps close the sale. How to Approach Marketing Tool Brands
  • Paid Social. Stick to Facebook advertising and hyper-target the boomers by demographics (age, gender, education), geography/location (retirement states), interests (home improvement, remodeling, etc.), and behaviors (shopping behavior, type of phone they use, etc.).  While your competitors may be using paid social, they are likely not maximizing the personalization and targeting making those that do fiercer competitors.

As we all know, fast-moving global markets and digital disruption have changed the game for all of us.  We need to stay close to our customers, glean insights quickly and move faster than ever before.  With a highly skilled, empowered, and small marketing team you can leverage the creativity and agility of the group to outmaneuver your competitors and realize exceptional results.

Interested in more exceptional blog posts about marketing tool brands?  Check these out:

DEWALT: Achieving Marketing Harmony

PROTO: Hit Your Audience Where It Helps