Earlier this month as True Value celebrated its 75th anniversary, the company’s executive team announced plans to invigorate the venerable brand and update its value proposition for the retailers it champions and the consumers those retailers serve.
Hardware Retailing had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly Megel, senior vice president of marketing, to learn what direction True Value is headed and the company’s plans to maintain relevance in today’s changing marketplace.
Hardware Retailing (HR): What was the most exciting part of the recent Reunion for you?
Kelly Megel (KM): What’s so exciting about this particular Reunion is celebrating the 75 years of the True Value brand and what that really means, which is a celebration of decades of work by our retailers helping and supporting their communities. So this Reunion is about celebrating True Value’s commitment to our retailers and their commitment to their local communities.
HR: During the general session, the focus was on how True Value can help retailers improve their businesses and ensure they are meeting the needs of their communities. Can you share more about this commitment to engaging with customers?
KM: The first steps to meeting the community’s needs are having the right products at the right prices. It is critical to our retailers that they are in the best position to know what their customers actually want and need. We support them in this way is by continuing to refine our assortments to ensure they have the right products for their markets. We pride ourselves on defining the “right products” because it is so critical. We have the best merchants in the industry who work every day with our vendors and receive feedback from our stores to perfect product assortments that will help retailers meet their customers needs and drive the growth of our retailers’ independent businesses.
In that same spirit, we’ve introduced our new retail price optimization program, powered by AI. This program is a way for our retailers to ensure their pricing aligns with what is right for their marketplace and without the headache of doing it manually—it’s something all retailers need to tap into.
HR: In the unveiling for the new branding, the phrase “Here For You, True Value” was the centerpiece. Why do you feel that pledge resonates today?
KM: It’s about what makes our retailers different. It’s branding, but it is also a promise that reflects reality. It’s the magic of our retailers’ relationships with their customers. They know their customers better than anyone else, and they can help them better than anyone else. So often in ads and on TV you see the glory of finished home improvement projects, but the reality is found in the fact that no project is perfect. Our retailers are there to help their customers when they need it or when things don’t go exactly as planned. It’s about letting those customers know in those moments, “Here for You, True Value.”
HR: That sounds like a message that should resonate with anyone who takes on home improvement projects. How do you spread that message to consumers today?
KM: We are taking a strategic approach to national media that will create a path to the local store, supported by local marketing. Oftentimes people “spray and pray” when it comes to advertising, but ad media has advanced well beyond just buying spots on TV. As consumer shopping habits have changed drastically, so has advertising, and it’s our job to ensure True Value stores are meeting the market.
Today, messaging is about finding the people we need to reach where they are spending their time, then delivering that messaging to them—whether that’s while they are finding inspiration on social media, scrolling online or streaming their favorite programs. We are taking a more strategic approach so that wherever they are, True Value is there.
We have a fantastic partner in Laughlin Constable to plan these efforts with and help drive people into the stores using the media they are engaging with. With local and national media efforts, we will drive the footsteps into the stores and then let our retailers do what they do best and fulfill that brand promise.
HR: How is True Value helping retailers reinforce this messaging in their own communities?
KM: First off, it’s important we are providing our retailers with the tools they need to support their stores. We had conversations with our retailers to understand what it is that truly makes them unique, and we love that independence. The heart of what they do is wanting to serve their customers, whether they are meeting customer needs in a Los Angeles market or in Iowa. We don’t have to say, “Go behave like this.” We are reflecting the values and differentiators that our stores truly offer and reflecting that back into the world.
Then the retailers support that same messaging with their own unique outreach to their local markets through the marketing programs we provide and help them develop every day
HR: How do retailers do this?
KM: The first step is to make sure they are inviting their customers back into their stores. For our retailers, we don’t think about the brand as a thing above everyone that hangs over their heads. The brand is a relationship built around helping their customers and supporting their needs—we as True Value are here for you.
To support this messaging, one new program we recently launched was marketing bundles. These are marketing tools retailers can select from to reach customers in their communities in a more effective way than ever before.
There are three types of bundles: a print bundle, a digital bundle and a loyalty package. They provide retailers with all the tools to promote their store and products to customers using the ways that make the most sense in their markets.
Additionally, we plan further ahead, allowing our customers to see promotions sooner, to act smarter and deliver the best deals to their customers. It’s a partnership. This kind of approach allows us to support them on a broader scale and gives
them the tools they need to make those independent decisions on a local level.
HR: What do you think retailers need to know about the post-pandemic home improvement market?
KM: I think consumers are craving that relationship built around helping them maintain, fix and repair all of the work they accomplished at home during the pandemic. In addition to that, as new homeowners slowly enter back into the market, being there is meaningful as they achieve their home improvement goals. That’s what you have to deliver.
For retailers, I think they are really looking for support that provides them the best product assortments and the right services and tools that help them run, operate and grow their business. If we can work together with them and leverage our collective scale, that’s what will drive success.