When Sears approached us in 2004, it faced rapidly declining same-store sales and a major competitive threat from both Home Depot and Lowe’s, which were stealing sales from Sears’ Craftsman and Kenmore brands. Still, Sears enjoyed some considerable advantages. In addition to strengths in tools and major appliances, it was the nation’s largest provider of in-home repair services and continued to hold strong appeal for women. The question: how to turn these strengths into a competitive advantage?
It was true in 2004 and it’s true today: Single women buy almost one-third of all homes in the U.S. Consider too that 80% of women will at some point have sole responsibility for maintaining a home. Many will assume that responsibility after a divorce or the death of a spouse — not a great time to have to learn home maintenance. Complicating matters: With many women considering their homes their primary asset, failure to maintain a home can have dire financial consequences if you’re not already an expert.
What We Did
Sears commissioned a first-ever telephone poll looking at the home care knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of 603 single, married or co-habiting women homeowners. Survey data were used to improve Sears’ in-home repair offerings and to create a dedicated website — the focus of a major national media campaign — where women could learn more about home care, get questions answered and express their interest in related Sears offerings.
High-profile media coverage was critical. The campaign generated well over 100,000,000 media impressions in less than six months. The survey was the subject of a Money magazine column, featured in the national Sunday newspaper supplement USA Weekend, and was the basis of a week-long series about women and homeownership on NBC’s Today. Unfortunately, the program was suspended as part of a sweeping strategic overhaul after a 2005 change of control.