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Hammer Time

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Product attributes ...
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The hammer is the very symbol of home improvement retailing, and the entry point purchase for home improvement consumers. Not surprisingly, the demographic skews young. The latest consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group also shows a movement toward specialization in product attributes and a movement toward “closer-to-home” purchasing.

Analysis: The warehouse home centers dominate the category in both dollar share and unit share. Moreover, the warehouse home center channel is increasing its lead. All other channels, except for specialty stores, lost share in both charts, according to the data.

Still, its important to point out that nearly a quarter of all hammers are sold in the mass channel (24.9 percent). “Mass still has a good focus on entry level tools, and it’s something they want to keep in their mix,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement.

CHANNEL BREAKDOWN BY AGE OF CONSUMER

Age Total WHC Mass Hardware Dept. Store LBM
18-34 43.9 44.7 43.5 42.5 46.7 58.1
35-44 21.7 22.0 22.9 18.6 15.3 28.0
45-54 19.8 18.9 19.8 23.5 21.7 3.8
55-64 8.7 7.9 9.8 6.1 11.2 10.1
65 + 5.8 6.5 4.0 9.3 5.1 0.0

Analysis: The 18-34 group buys the most hammers by far. This demographic is more prevalent than average in the warehouse home centers (43.9 percent), and less prevalent in the hardware stores (42.5 percent).

Analysis: While still dominant, the basic claw/rip/framing hammer head lost share in 2008, revealing a trend toward specialization in hammer sales. All other types showed an increase in dollar share. Another clear trend was the movement toward wood handles, up 2.3 percentage points. Wood handles would seem to reflect a back-to-basics approach on the part of consumers.

The average price paid by consumers is $11.34, up from $10.46 in the same period last year. Not surprisingly, the mass channel averaged the lowest price point ($8.95), while the pro-oriented LBM supply stores averaged $15.26.

Analysis: Close to home rose 4. 1 percentage points as a reason for shopping a specific retailer. Not surprising given the impact of gas prices on the consumer wallet. But once the customer is in the store, the concept of a “trusted brand” is gaining importance. Delaney offered three ideas: 1.) “First, hammers are still a low-priced category, 2.) It’s a necessity. It’s one of the first tools you’ll ever need. 3.) It also benefits from the renewed focus on small projects.”

Methodolgy NPD data is based on monthly tracking of nearly 70 categories, to 30,000 opt-in customers. The data above reflects the period July 2007 to June 2008.

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