DIY stores selling professional brands; the opinion of the crafsmen
In a previous post I already described the attitude of HVAC installers towards professional brands being sold in DIY stores. In this post we will take a look at the views of the electrical installers towards this topic. USP Marketing Consultancy just finalized the Q3 2017 report of the European electrical installation monitor (4,800 successful telephone interviews with installers in 7 countries). The theme of this report was love brands. Besides the brand awareness, usage and preference of installers for various products, we also asked some questions on professional brands being sold via the DIY chains.
Professional brands in DIY stores?
Before we start diving into the figures, first some background. Traditionally major manufacturers active in construction had a strong channel focus for their products. In many cases, if they offered products for both the professionals and the consumers, separate brands/product lines where created for each target group. A good example is the way Bosch did this with their tools. They developed a green line for the DIY business and blue tools for the craftsmen/trade users. The green line ended up in the DIY stores and the blue line at the professional wholesale.
For many years this division stayed more or less intact. In the last decade however, we have seen a shift towards more brands for professionals entering the DIY stores. There are several reasons for this, but I think the most important ones are the increasing importance of the ‘multi skillers’ . This group consist mainly out of 1 man/woman companies providing a wide variety of services. Because of the increasing demand and high cost of labor (especially for specialized tradesmen like electrical installers), these ‘multi skillers’ are getting more work. This group is far more open to buy their products at the DIY stores. Another reason is that the traditional 3-way distribution in both construction and the DIY market is under pressure. DIY stores have been losing market share (for example to online players).
One of the ways how they are trying to combat this, is broadening their customer base. Many DIY stores are now actively targeting professionals and the multi skillers mentioned earlier. In order to cater to the needs of the professional, many DIY stores are now selling brands intended for professionals as well. For example, at my local DIY store, they sell both the blue and green line of Bosch.
Caution is necessary
There are however various reasons for manufacturers to be very cautious about starting to sell their professional brands/product lines at DIY stores. Obviously it might impact their brand perception by the professional users if their products are offered at DIY stores. In my previous post, it was already quite clear that the majority of the HVAC installers where quite negative about professional brands being sold at DIY stores. Especially German installers were very negative.
Looking at the image above, it’s clear that the same is true when it comes to electrical installers. The majority of electrical installers in Europe are negative or very negative about more professional brands being sold at DIY stores. In Germany, only 3% of the electrical installers are positive about this development. In most countries this percentage is between 10-15%. Polish electrical installers are most positive about DIY stores selling professional brands, but still that’s only 15% of the installers. It has to be noted that in Poland the percentage of installers that are negative is also not that high. The majority of the installers in Poland are neutral towards DIY stores selling professional brands.
One of the key questions is if and how this negative view will affect brand choice and loyalty? In general, professionals do have a high degree of brand loyalty, especially in countries like Germany.
Regardless of the possible threats, I think that more professional brands will also start selling via DIY stores and other channels open to both professionals and consumers. Especially given the fact that omnichannel buying will not go down, but rather up and that the lines between the various channels will become more blurred. This is not only the case for DIY stores broadening their product offering, but specialized wholesalers are doing the same (i.e Electrical wholesale selling HVAC products and vice versa).
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