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Gender shopping: HD, Lowe’s share their philosophies

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An article in the Wall Street Journal reinforced the notions that many shoppers have always held about the nation’s leading home-improvement retailers: one caters to women, and the other prefers a gender neutral atmosphere. 

Lowe’s ongoing effort to appear female friendly recently including lowering the stores’ 16-ft. perimeter shelving and 12-ft. fixtures in the aisles, company VP Melissa Birdsong told the WSJ in a Sept. 6 interview. In some areas, the racks are as low as 4.5 ft.

“What we heard from customers, mostly women, is that [higher racks were] very intimidating,” Birdsong said.

In contrast, Home Depot is staying true to its original DIY format. Company spokeswoman Jean Niemi told the WSJ that the Atlanta retailer’s store “is first and foremost a working warehouse.” Differentiating based on gender isn’t in the company playbook, she said, adding: “We don’t look at it like men versus women.”    

I believe that The Home Depot

I believe that The Home Depot has taken the approach that will work best for them and their customers by staying true to their founding concepts and being gender neutral in their design. To openly state that you are targeting a particular consumer segment may also impact your product decisions and ultimately make you a less viable source for all of your customers. Also, there may be some additional motivation behind the reduction in rack height at Lowe's. A change providing less space for inventory storage could possibly result in improved inventory turnover and higher GMROI, but only if it doesn't create out-of-stocks or less customers. They may be using physical plant changes to help them lower inventory levels instead of counting on their systems and their people to manage that part of their business.

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