Opportunities for Growth Arise in the OPE Category

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Outdoor power equipment has experienced a surge in the last four years for smaller brands. Some of this stems from these additional brands pushing for a more significant presence in retail and online outlets. But the general growth in sales outside of the most established brands demonstrates both a savvier customer base and a real opportunity for newer players to push in and claim market share.

While the best-known brands in outdoor power tools are not going away, the sustained growth of newer, lesser-known brands shows room for innovation and potential for emerging companies. The decline of traditional brands shows opportunity for companies with the right messaging to grab market share in this market space.

Numbers on the Shift Toward Lesser-Known Brands 

In 2014, TraQline™ data showed sales for “other brands” (those not in the top 10) had already claimed 36% of unit share in the outdoor power tools niche, far exceeding the leading brands of Black & Decker®, which led all brands at 15% of unit share, and Craftsman® at 13%. But by 2018, the share of brands outside the top 10 had grown to 42% of unit share for other brands, pushing Black & Decker down to 11% and Craftsman to 9%.

This shifting of share percentage does not demonstrate a high volume of cheaper products. For its unit share of 42%, other brands had increased in dollar share from 34% to 40% in that same period, comparing favorably to Craftsman, which lost dollar share from 14% to 10%, and the less expensive Black & Decker, which dropped from 7% to 5% in dollar share.


Changing How Branding Matters

In TraQline’s OPE data, the “other brands” category consists of dozens of brands across multiple product categories and does not represent a single power player in outdoor power equipment. While Black & Decker still represents more than one out of every ten units sold in this space, and Craftsman retains almost one out of every ten dollars spent on outdoor power equipment. The power of name recognition still holds sway in the market.

However, the growth of other brands and the corresponding decline in the bigger brand names heralds a world in which the big brands may not hold the same power as they once did.

A Possible Explanation?  Changing Product Mix and Demographics

Two key factors might play into this consumer shift from big brands: Changing product mix and Demographics.

One of the most rapidly emerging trends in all of home improvement is the consumer adoption of electrically powered equipment. From drills to riding lawnmowers, nearly every category seems to have been affected by the declining cost of lithium-ion batteries.  OPE is no exception; with cheap batteries and tech that is easily replicated from brand to brand, we’re seeing a proliferation of brands entering the market where there were few before. The barriers to entry in the design and production of a combustion engine have been replaced with ease of access to injection mold manufacturing  and sourced motor and battery technology. This changing mix has altered the playing field for the category in an unprecedented way.

Demographics and preferences may also come into play.  Studies have demonstrated that different demographics are influenced by brands in different ways. Millennials specifically care about brands in different ways than Generation X and Baby Boomers. Social issues and the ways brands respond to them matter more, and brands can earn loyalty by engaging with those social issues.

Tapping into a new set of key values will be essential to brands growing with the Millennials who now drive the economic engine in the United States. Brands like Craftsman and Black & Decker remain strong, but the space for newer brands capitalizing on low barriers to entry and the changing customer base will continue to grow in coming years. Emerging companies and established companies alike have much to gain from engaging in social issues and connecting with the young shoppers who are increasingly leading the way in retail.