Atlanta, GA, Feb. 11--Home improvement industry observers have long believed Lowe's appeals more to women, but a new study finds the Lowe's attracts no more female shoppers than rival Home Depot.
A survey of 8,200 U.S. households by Forrester Research of Cambridge, Massechusett., found that 45% of customers at both home center stores were female.
The study, conducted in the second half of last year, was not commissioned by Lowe's or Home Depot.
"What really stuck out at me was how similar these consumers are," said Forrester's Christopher Kelley, who analyzed the survey. "Whether you're a Lowe's shopper or a Home Depot shopper, it's more about whether you're a home improvement person than anything else."
Women have been getting more attention from home goods retailers.
A national study by Lowe's last year found 94% of female home owners complete a home project on their own at least once every five years. Home Depot has noticed steady growth in the number of women attending its how-to clinics to learn how to install ceramic tile or ceiling fans.
Home improvement industry analysts have said in the past that Lowe's had an edge with women, with securities firms such as Natexis Bleichroeder saying the retailer's wide aisles and bright lighting are more appealing to females.
Home Depot has conceded it may have undermarketed to women in the past, but said it will not focus marketing efforts on any particular customer. "We will not drop a gender to add a gender," CEO Robert Nardelli told a recent investor conference.
Forrester's study found Lowe's and Home Depot shoppers had many things in common. For example, the average age of the Home Depot shopper was 50, compared with 49 for Lowe's. Thirty eight percent of Home Depot shoppers have a college degree, compared with 35% at Lowe's.
There were some differences. Home Depot shoppers have a higher average income, at $60,800, compared with $54,000 for Lowe's customers.
"I think that is more a function of geography than anything else," Kelley said, noting Home Depot, with 1,500 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is more dominant in the richest U.S. markets than Lowe's.
But as Lowe's continues to expand to larger markets such as the Northeast, Kelley said, "the average income of the Lowe's shoppers is bound to increase."