Lowe's has a different approach to Black Friday than most brands. That's not just owing to a certain strain of iconoclasm at the brand. It's also because, practically speaking, the winter months aren't necessarily the busy season for people seeking home-improvement projects.
"Our business is not like other retail. Our Super Bowl, if you will, is really more the spring season," explains Marci Grebstein, chief marketing officer at Lowe's. "If you think about it from the consumer standpoint, you have people who’ve been hibernating for a good part of the winter, then as soon as you have a couple of warm days, that’s when our busy season starts."
What that means for Lowe's is, when it comes to Black Friday, it can experiment a little more than other brands might. This year, that means that tapping the power of Facebook Live to show off deals in a way that feels more like an event than simply picking up the newspaper and looking at the ads. "As millennials age into first-time home ownership, we know that we're not reaching them with our circulars on Thanksgiving Day that have all the great Black Friday deals," Grebstein says. "We needed to find a way to engage not just with the older millennials, but with people differently. We really focused our brand architecture this year around three components: winning the heart, winning the head, and winning the wallet. When we started to look at that, we wanted to see how to drive the traffic, which is the 'win the wallet' part of the strategy, and then where do we want to win the heart, which is the emotional part. And we’re playing very differently in both of those areas. When Facebook Live came about, the idea of being able to interact and comment with the live event was something that we thought could begin to capture people in a very different way."
Using Facebook Live in that way can be a challenge, though. When it comes to Black Friday reveals, people generally want the deal information more than they want to watch a video, which means that Lowe's had to come up with a way to make this more appealing than just clicking "play" on a video of someone reading a list of items and prices on a camera. What it looks like here is an event hosted by HGTV's Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, in which they reveal the different products and offers available in the Black Friday promotion. They'll be doing it through an interactive game in which viewers can interact with the Scott Brothers through voting elements, revealing the items alongside comedy bits and pranks to stretch the event out, and maintain the suspense of each reveal.
To generate interest in the event, Lowe's teased it at the beginning of November in a video also starring the Scott Brothers, among other things, performing magic tricks and playing shell games with cups and giant warehouses boxes. It seems to have worked—so far, 1.4 million viewers have watched—and all of this, Grebstein says, gives Lowe's the chance to engage customers in new ways, as Black Friday has changed not just for Lowe's, but for retailers in every space.
"The online transaction piece has grown significantly over the years," Grebstein says. "Our stores are closed on Thanksgiving Day, but consumers can start shopping on Thanksgiving Day on Lowes.com. Because they can start getting those same deals even before the stores open, the Facebook Live event gives people time to actually plan how they're going to do their shopping. So if there are certain other retailers that feel like they have to get in line at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, or at 3 a.m. that morning, we're allowing them the time to properly plan—they can go online on Thanksgiving Day and buy other items from us, and we've seen that online surge on Thanksgiving Day grow tremendously over the last three or four years."