Product Line Reviews at Home Depot

3 Ways for Your Home Improvement Brand to Succeed During Product Line Reviews

May 25, 2023

If you’re a build­ing prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­er bring­ing your prod­ucts to mar­ket through big-box retail­ers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and inde­pen­dent retail­ers, you’re already famil­iar with a process called a prod­uct line review — that often stress­ful sea­son of mak­ing your case to the retail­er to keep your prod­uct in the right place at the right time. 

Once you have the infor­ma­tion in hand to sup­port your case, though, the process becomes much less stress­ful, and can even be more empow­er­ing to your teams.

What Are PLRs?

Prod­uct line reviews are a stan­dard part of doing busi­ness with big-box stores. They can be an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands to gain shelf space and increase sales. How­ev­er, pulling off a suc­cess­ful review requires a sol­id under­stand­ing of your mar­ket and the abil­i­ty to craft a com­pelling mar­ket­ing pitch backed by inter­nal data, sec­ondary data, and cus­tom research.

If you’re look­ing to col­lect insights and sup­port research efforts for an upcom­ing prod­uct line review, data from the Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute (HIRI) that is avail­able to HIRI mem­bers will help you to make your case.

Since dur­ing a prod­uct line review, the sup­pli­er presents a prod­uct line to a retailer’s buy­ing team, high­light­ing its fea­tures, ben­e­fits and unique sell­ing points, the sup­pli­er needs to under­stand what the retailer’s core busi­ness objec­tives for the next year are. 

The retailer’s buy­ing team will then eval­u­ate the prod­ucts based on a vari­ety of fac­tors. Com­mon fac­tors include 

  • Mar­ket demand (i.e., will this prod­uct dri­ve foot traf­fic and online traf­fic for the retailer?)

  • Pric­ing (i.e., will the sub­se­quent retail price of these prod­ucts moti­vate or deter buy­ers based on the retailer’s own pric­ing strategy?)

  • Range of prod­uct options (like col­ors, mate­ri­als, and styles)

  • How well the prod­ucts fit with­in the retailer’s over­all mix

To ensure your team is suc­cess­ful at prod­uct line reviews, be cog­nizant of the following:

1. Provide Retailers With What They Need to Know About Category Specific Market Dynamics

Often­times, nation­al account man­agers at large retail­ers lack an in-depth under­stand­ing of the com­pet­i­tive land­scape of spe­cif­ic home improve­ment prod­uct cat­e­gories, despite their own efforts to expand prod­uct offer­ings and sales across those same categories. 

By pre­sent­ing your case based on mar­ket research, you will be adding val­ue to your retail­ers’ teams by sup­ply­ing them with valu­able data to bridge these knowl­edge gaps and assist retail­ers in mak­ing informed decisions. 

Exam­ples of mar­ket share infor­ma­tion you can pre­pare include:

  • Cat­e­go­ry spe­cif­ic mar­ket size

  • Your share of the market

  • Your com­peti­tors’ shares

  • Retail­er com­peti­tors’ shares

  • Retail­er com­peti­tors’ weaknesses

  • Demand for var­i­ous home improve­ment project types

The Home Improve­ment Research Institute’s U.S. size-of-mar­ket report is updat­ed mul­ti­ple times per year and may be a help­ful place to start. This report gives cat­e­go­ry-lev­el mar­ket size infor­ma­tion. Use it before prod­uct line reviews to cal­cu­late your share of the mar­ket based on a com­bi­na­tion of the size-of-mar­ket data and your company’s inter­nal data. This will help you under­stand your posi­tion in the mar­ket and devel­op strate­gies to improve mar­ket share.

The size-of-mar­ket report also equips your ana­lysts with impor­tant infor­ma­tion about how the home improve­ment mar­ket and the U.S. econ­o­my are fore­cast­ed to per­form in the near future. Com­ing to a prod­uct line review with the most rel­e­vant mar­ket lev­el infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble will help you nego­ti­ate the best out­comes because you and your teams are demon­strat­ing that you are look­ing at the big pic­ture about the suc­cess of your cat­e­go­ry as a whole — which is in the inter­ests of the retailer.

2. Present Insights Into DIY and Pro Shopping Behavior

While prod­uct line reviews should include infor­ma­tion on the mar­ket as a whole, the case you’re mak­ing should also get gran­u­lar with data that specif­i­cal­ly sup­ports your prod­uct line and this retail partnership.

HIRI’s Retail Selec­tor Study gives a cat­e­go­ry-lev­el break­down of what dri­ves DIY and pro­fes­sion­al con­trac­tor foot traf­fic to var­i­ous retail­ers for 16 home improve­ment prod­uct cat­e­gories and may be of help to you in that regard. The study explores retail shop­ping activ­i­ty, the aver­age amount spent, retail­er pur­chase rea­son and sat­is­fac­tion, cross-cat­e­go­ry pur­chas­ing behav­iors and more. HIRI mem­bers are able to down­load the raw data to use in con­junc­tion with inter­nal data to pre­pare the most com­pelling visu­als to sup­port your claims.

This research will pro­vide man­u­fac­tur­ers with insights into what is dri­ving foot traf­fic for your prod­uct cat­e­go­ry at dif­fer­ent retail chan­nels and help you devel­op strate­gies to increase sales at those retail­ers — that’s what your audi­ence will want to hear more about. It can also pro­vide insights into the shop­ping pref­er­ences of your prod­uct line and how these cus­tomers view the shop­ping expe­ri­ence so that you can pro­pose col­lab­o­ra­tive solu­tions that serves the inter­ests of the retail­er as well as your own.

Com­ing to a prod­uct line review equipped with this infor­ma­tion about cus­tomer shop­ping and pur­chas­ing behav­iors will show retail­ers that you care about not only the suc­cess of your cat­e­go­ry but also how your prod­uct will affect their business.

3. Come to a Line Review with a Marketing Plan, Not Just a Product Plan

It’s essen­tial to come to a prod­uct line review with a mar­ket­ing plan, not just a prod­uct plan. The prod­uct plan cer­tain­ly can be eas­i­er to get a hold of and can appear to be more for­ward look­ing and inno­v­a­tive, but beware; retail­ers are look­ing for prod­ucts that will sell well right now, and a mar­ket­ing plan that out­lines the expect­ed demand for a prod­uct, and how that demand will be both cre­at­ed and cap­tured, will be more com­pelling than the prod­uct roadmap alone.

With a HIRI mem­ber­ship, you can use cus­tomer-focused research to devel­op a data-backed mar­ket­ing plan that show­cas­es how your mar­ket­ing and chan­nel strate­gies are going to con­tin­ue cap­tur­ing shopper’s atten­tion and result in con­tin­ued unit sales.

HIRI pro­vides stake­hold­ers in the home improve­ment indus­try with data regard­ing the degree to which var­i­ous medi­ums are used by DIY­ers and Pros to con­duct project and prod­uct research, shop, and ulti­mate­ly make a pur­chase. One mode of research is the cat­e­go­ry lev­el stud­ies from the over­ar­ch­ing Prod­uct Pur­chase Track­ing Study, which you can use to show retail­ers that you under­stand buy­ers’ pur­chase moti­va­tions and sup­port the actions of your orga­ni­za­tion to align with buy­ers’ and increase sales.

Preparing for Your Next Product Line Review

Suc­ceed­ing dur­ing prod­uct line reviews requires a sol­id under­stand­ing of the home improve­ment mar­ket and pre­sent­ing a com­pelling mar­ket­ing pitch backed by data and designed around the busi­ness inter­ests of your retailers.

The home improve­ment indus­try spe­cif­ic research avail­able through your HIRI mem­ber­ship will help you and your teams devel­op a data-backed case to present dur­ing your PLR.

Become a Member

Stay Informed

Sign up for the HIRI newslet­ter to stay informed about the research we’re con­duct­ing, home improve­ment indus­try trends, and infor­ma­tion on our upcom­ing Home Improve­ment Insights Summit.