At Ace Hardware, the marketing strategy is based on harnessing the attributes of the community and small businesses. The constant strengthening of the helpful position has attracted more women, more younger buyers and more new owners.
I recently asked Kim Lefko, CMO of Ace Hardware, to give us some information.
Paul Talbot: When you step back and look at how your marketing has evolved over the past few years, what stands out?
Kim Lefko: The past year has emphasized the goal of the Ace brand: we exist to help others.
Our integrated marketing and promotion campaigns focus on how Ace is the preferred destination for paint, grills, electrical equipment, and home preservation. Our goal is simple; the high-quality brands in each of these categories that consumers want and only Ace can deliver, and the trusted expert advice our neighbors expect.
For reference, this assortment of high-quality brands that Ace offers nationwide includes Benjamin Moore, Magnolia, Weber, Traeger, Big Green Egg, Ego, Stihl, Toro and Milwaukee.
Last year we attracted younger buyers, more new home buyers and more women than ever before. Ace stores offer quality brands, expert advice and the convenience of shopping in the neighborhood. This distinction made it possible to attract a new audience to Ace. We have also worked to engage and establish partnerships with young DIY enthusiasts.
For example, during our recent paint campaign, we declared April 3 as “One day”. From the survey results, we knew that people often put the painting back for one reason or another. To help overcome paint procrastination, we have provided many offers to help our clients finally tackle the room they wanted to paint “someday”.
To spread the word, we’ve teamed up with Millennial DIYers on Instagram and TikTok to support their own creative painting project. During the 6 week campaign window, we saw a record number of customers for our paint category.
Talbot: Your organization is a cooperative owned by retailers. How does this structure influence the development and execution of your marketing strategy?
Lefko: With more than 4,500 stores in the United States, 75% of the American population is within 15 minutes of their local Ace store, and no store is alike. These local stores are part of the community and you can feel that as you walk in, each has a unique assortment of products and their own special shopping experience.
The majority of Ace stores are small, local, often family-owned businesses with the autonomy to tailor their store offerings to their communities. While we have a nationwide ad campaign strategy that fosters overall brand awareness and affinity with Ace, we are focused on providing the platforms and tools we adopt for personalized local marketing in every store on an ongoing basis in order to ” attract their local customer.
Talbot: Ace Hardware had been in business for 47 years prior to Home Depot’s arrival. After 43 years of competing with The Home Depot, to effectively communicate what you see as benefits, what key messages do you need to convey through your marketing?
Lefko: We differentiate ourselves with our local ownership, trusted advice and award-winning customer service. We were once again honored to receive the highest ranking for “Highest Customer Satisfaction Among Home Improvement & Retail Stores” in JD Power’s annual Home Improvement Survey.
Talbot: When you examine how technology and media platforms can support your marketing goals, what opportunities do you find most interesting?
Lefko: The technology we are most passionate about are the tactics that help amplify and extend our humanity, our highly tactile service experience delivered by local store execution.
E-commerce is a growing channel for us and during the pandemic we have seen our digital revenues increase by 272%. Our Ace app and e-commerce site are the “front porch” and extension of our local stores, providing the ease of online ordering.
Our deliveries are managed by the partners of the local Ace. It is the synergy between each of these components that makes our service excellent and what consumers want; the digital and local proximity to stores and the personal and human connection of the local Ace associate. We are passionate about existing to serve and help our communities.