The ripple effects of the collapsed housing market are being felt everywhere—real estate companies, contractors, building supply companies. As a result, chains like Home Depot (aka contractor central) and Lowe's have been suffering. And in the battle between the two biggest warehouse providers of hardware, home goods and building materials, it appears Lowe's has blinked first.
The chain, which had a built-in quality message thanks to its cleaner stores, solid customer service and distinct lack of blinding blaze orange, has decided to play the price game. Its new ads, voiced as usual by Gene Hackman, do not highlight the reasons why people like Lowe's. Rather, they boldly claim that Lowe's has the lowest prices, guaranteed. To drive home the point, it's slapped the letter "t" at the end of its name to form the word "Lowest." While that's a cute, Sesame Street-like exercise in how to form new words by adding letters, it is also a potentially crippling exercise in short-term thinking. Lowe's has now committed itself to Wal-Mart territory. No longer is it about quality and helpfulness; it's about being cheap. And while "Everyday low prices" has always been a part of Wal-Mart's brand messaging, that is a much different promise than "The lowest prices guaranteed." If I were Gene Hackman, I'd be concerned that the chain soon won't be able to afford my voiceover work.
—Posted by Kenneth Hein