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Home Depot Woos Women With New Design

Thursday, 18 Oct 2007 | 1:31 PM ET

Home Depot is currently the worst-performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average index, but the warehouse-style U.S. home-improvement retailer is getting a makeover.

Attempting to woo women, Home Depot has launched a pilot program: two store locations were reworked as “Design Centers,” geared to supposedly female tastes.

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The design centers feature less lumber and heavy tools, more finished furniture, design services and organizational tools. The centers have also been revamped aesthetically with homier color schemes.

A Home Depot spokesman told CNBC that men should not feel alienated by the experimental layouts: the program is not meant to appeal to women alone, but to attract couples to come and share the new “customer experience” together.

There are some good reasons for the changes. Among them is the belief that women control the lion's share of the household home improvement budget.

“About 83 cents of every dollar is either spent or influenced by women in the United States today,” advertising expert Michelle Miller told CNBC.

Also, Home Depot's rival Lowe’s – the No. 2 U.S. home-improvement retailer by sales – has long been seen as being more friendly to women shoppers with its brighter stores.

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Mitch Kaiser, retail analyst at Piper Jaffray, thinks Home Depot’s plan has potential. He told CNBC, “The bigger benefit could be if [the company] could take the learning from these stores and extend it” to its 2,200 other sales outlets.

Home Depot has an opportunity to reclaim market share if it can manage to “increase the ‘shopability’” of its vast chain, said Kaiser.

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