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Home Depot: Say it ain’t so! November 5, 2007

Posted by Elana Anderson in Customer Analytics, Database Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Measurement, Marketing Strategy.
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Home Depot Kids WorkshopIf you have kids, maybe you’ve heard of the free workshops that Home Depot runs the first Saturday of every month. My kids just love these events. When we go, they don their bright orange aprons (courtesy of Home Depot) and announce that they are going “to work.” This weekend, as the remnants of hurricane Noel hit our coastal town, my husband and I decided to head over. While he shopped, the kids and I built pirate ships (I only suffered a few hammer bruises). I also chatted a bit with the employee running the workshop who told me that corporate is planning to cancel the program. NOOOO!

Why are marketers forced to be so short sighted? 

Please keep in mind that I don’t have confirmation that the program is indeed being canceled – my intel here is a short exchange with an employee who may have been misinformed. But, it did get me thinking about marketing and how focused on the short-term marketers are forced to be. Sure, measuring the impact of a marketing program like this is hard. Maybe the short-term ROI of program is limited (although our exit bill was ~$120), but Home Depot execs shouldn’t discount the fact that the program fosters a bunch of little do-it-yourselfers who become Home Depot brand advocates at the tender age of 5.Before canceling this program to save costs, Home Depot needs to examine the impact:

  • According to Home Depot’s website, an average of 75 kids/store attend the workshops each month. With 2100 stores (and an average of 1.5 kids/adult), that’s 105,000 adults in the store on the 1st Saturday of the month that likely wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Now assume that 10% of those adults spend $100. That’s $1,050,000 each month. Now, consider the flip side, cancel the program and the parents don’t come in and spend – that’s an annual loss of $12.6 million.

  • It’s also not unreasonable in the least to think that the program has some additional brand impact on the parents of these kids. Again, let’s conservatively assume that 10% of the parents make one additional trip to Home Depot and spend $100. That’s another $1,050,000 per year.

  • Home Depot says that over 17.5 million projects have been completed in the workshops since 1997. I’m sure there are quite a bit of repeat visitors so let’s assume that the program has reached 6 million kids since it was initiated. That’s a lot of brand advocates with future purchasing potential. Once again, take a conservative assumption: let’s say 1% of those kids grows up to spend $300/year. That’s $18,000,000 per year (in today’s money).

Starts to add up, doesn’t it? Now, I don’t know much about Home Depot’s business or have any insight to average order size and that sort of thing so it’s hard to go on, but I think I’ve made my point. I wonder if the execs are evaluating the program based on costs and fluffy returns or quantifying the fact that the program:

  • Drives traffic into the store.

  • Yields (by my back of the napkin estimate) $13.7 million/year now.

  • Creates future buyers.

I sure hope the marketing folks at Home Depot are presenting the powers that be with numbers and not just shrugging their shoulders about the value of the program. Even though some of the numbers may not be auditable based on available data, I’ve always found that presenting numbers based on realistic (i.e., totally believable estimates) is a very powerful tool for getting senior executives on board with a marketing strategy or a program idea.

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