For more than a decade, Home Depot has been quietly awarding its vendors for innovative products. Now, the home improvement retailer is making its Innovation Awards public for the first time by labeling winners with a new sticker seal so consumers get the message.
"This award represents the best of the best," says Lisa DeStefano, VP of brand marketing and creative at Atlanta-based Home Depot, noting that Home Depot employees engage in a secret and energetic nomination process around the annual event. "Innovation is one of the fundamental things we think the customer counts on us for."
The award, given annually, highlights 10 products that create more value and convenience in the home improvement space for customers. This year's three topmost winners include a set of lightweight battery-operated power tools; a special slip-proof tile, and a set of LED lights that create different color temperatures.
Each item will be marked with the seal online beginning Oct. 2; in-store customers will see the label next month, ahead of the holiday season. Home Depot worked with RR Donnelley on the sticker design; the retailer also works with the Richards Group and 22squared. DeStefano declined to specify the budget around marketing the awards, but noted it will include in-store promotions as well as online messaging.
"We sell the same categories of goods that a lot of our competitors do," she says. "But even though the category might be the same, the product is different and this is one of the ways we're showing the customer that we have things that are unique."
Home Depot is also looking to differentiate itself on the delivery front. Last month, the company rolled out same-day delivery to its 2,200-store fleet as it competes with Amazon, which has been growing its own home-improvement services category and will sell Christmas trees this year. Such efforts may be paying off. For the second quarter of the year, Home Depot reported sales of $30.5 billion, an 8 percent rise over the year-earlier period. Comparable store sales for the period were up 8 percent as well, while net income, at $3.5 billion, increased 31 percent.