Through a Shopper's Eyes (Takeaways From the National Hardware Show)

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May 17, 2011
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Guest Contributor

Women play significant decision-making role in home improvement purchases

Statistically speaking, women may not be the more likely gender to operate lawn mowers on a regular basis. It was very clear to me, however, as I walked last week’s North American Retail Hardware Association National Hardware Show (NHS) in Las Vegas, that women are a powerful force to appreciate when it comes to selecting the lawn mower (or tool box or shovel or grill, for that matter.)

Women Outdoors Shopping Friends

Did you know that, according to a study commissioned by Lowe's, women play a decision-making role in 80 percent of home improvement purchases? If that doesn’t give your product development team great pause and an impetus to do some market research studies about what women want, well, let’s just say your product may not end up in my shopping cart.

While at the NHS, I realized that we women were seriously outnumbered at the conference (Hooray! No line at the ladies’ room!), as I did not have to elbow out any other women to get to the products clearly designed to catch my eye. As a consumer, I found myself to be a critical target of many brands, and mentally marked my own gut reactions to items clearly designed for a woman's eye. I was drawn like a mosquito to a bug zapper to the booths that had a lovely palette of colors - such as the shovels and rakes designed by Radius Garden, as well as the beautiful True Grip gardening gloves being shown by Big Time Products.

Baby Woman Shoulder Bow

I also detected my primal mom instinct when I nearly collided with other clamoring browsers to reach a booth featuring some really clever child safety equipment developed by Dream Baby. Note to all the companies/exhibitors targeting moms--if you can find a way to put a cute baby on your banner, we’ll come flocking your way. Although, it may not be a great idea to have a picture of a baby wielding a power tool—that may be taking it a bit too far!

Finally, I can’t help but admit my comfort level was a bit higher for the companies that had a female representative manning (womanning?) the booth. I was surprised that I even recognized this change in my own comfort level, much less that I even cared about the gender of the people presenting their products to me. After all, I attended a college heavy in engineering and sciences that was populated by men to the tune of over 70 per cent of the student population (Go Yellowjackets!) And, I am an engineer working in a profession with a similar gender divide as college and feel very at home in my work life. But, there it is--give me a picture of a baby, a woman in the booth, some pretty colors--and you've got my attention. Now, if your product also solves a problem I have and works well, I'm pulling out my wallet!

I hope next year to have a longer line at the ladies' room...well...maybe at least some more female company to ooh and ahh over the cute pink and orange rakes.

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