Home Depot Makes A Loyalty Play With New Kids Program

Calling all would-be Jonathan and Drew Scotts of Property Brothers and future Bob Vilas from This Old House, The Home Depot
has a mini orange apron and toy tool belt for you.

The home improvement giant is targeting a consumer segment with minimal spending power: children. The goal is to instill a love of building, renovating and repairing that will carry through to adulthood.

It’s a brand play for the loyalty of young minds and promise of future disposable income, introducing The Home Depot to the playground set, whose suburban parents embraced the DIY ethos of waterproofing basements, applying fresh coats of paint and planting gardens using the retailer’s products and how-to guides.

The retailer has been offering educational workshops to more than one million adult consumers since the ’90s, homeowner 101 courses, do-it-yourself workshops and on-trend tutorials inspired by Pinterest.

The Home Depot today is launching a new series of kids workshops and an educational video series, Virtual Field Trips, for the millions of students across the U.S. attending school remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer in 1997 offered its first kids workshop. Virtual field trips featuring suppliers, provide a learning resource and give parents who are struggling to keep their kids occupied another source of entertainment.

The Virtual Field Trip series was created by The Home Depot. “We have a team of experts that create DIY content for kids and partner with suppliers and organizations such as Discovery Education,” said Lisa DeStefano, vice president of brand marketing and creative. “Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content and professional learning for K-12 classrooms.”

The Home Depot and Discovery Education created the Science Fair Central, a platform that’s provided more than two million educators and students with STEAM project starters, information on scientific processes and material checklists, tools to take their science fair and STEAM event projects to the next level. Science Fair Central’s Maker’s Corner offers activities such as creating a battery using lemons and building a hydroponic garden.

“Virtual Field Trips will kick off with The Home Depot’s supplier Bonnie Plants in October and follow with Back to the Roots in November,” said DeStefano. “Bonnie Plants is providing children with an engaging, high-level view into its process, from plant genetics to supply chain. We work closely with our suppliers to bring the most innovative products to our customers. We’re excited to partner with them to inspire the next generation of doers.”

“We understand people’s lives have shifted tremendously over the last seven months and remote learning has become a part of their day-to-day,” DeStefano added. “At The Home Depot, we have an opportunity to provide another learning resource for our youngest doers. The new Virtual Field Trips series is a prime example of uniquely meeting our customers where they are by bringing in-person experiences – like a field trip – to life, digitally.”

The new series, found at HomeDepot.com/Kids, is filled with a variety of resources with unique content, and project guides for making everything from tree swings and bird houses, to more esoteric activities such as pressing flowers and creating zinnia bouquets out of pine cones. There are inspiration guides for fairy garden ideas and other outdoor projects.

Each month, The Home Depot will release a new kit with pre-cut wooden pieces, a Kids Workshop apron, apron pin and certificate of completion. The crafts promote skills such as learning to hammer, encourage creativity and instills a sense of accomplishment. “Kids create really cool stuff in less than an hour,” DeStefano said of Octiber’s ladder truck kit, which sells for $4.98.

Other retailers have been focusing on children’s activities with experiences designed for the Internet. Camp by Walmart, which launched on July 8, is a free virtual camp, where celebrities are the counselors. It’s powered by the interactive video platform Eko, in which Walmart Inc.
is an investor.

Camp, which launched in 2018 a 10,000-square-foot flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, seemed to perfectly embody “experiential” retail, the prevailing buzzword at the time, with sleep-away conceits like a general store and canteen.

As the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the retail industry, forcing stores, restaurants and shopping centers to close, Camp in March made the decision to temporarily close stores.

“Walmart sees this as a content hub and the only place that you can access Camp,” said Camp founder Ben Kaufman said at the time. “We seamlessly integrated play moments with products. All the relevant merchandise pops up directly next to the content. You can easily add it to your cart. The content is built for families to enjoy together, but it’s a retail platform. If we’re showing how to decorating eggs, we want to sell you eggs.”

As the home improvement product and project authority, The Home Depot is looking forward to providing resources to kids, DeStefano said. “We’re leveraging our project know-how and innovative products to help doers get more done,” she added. “We have a long-standing connection and relationship with the communities that we serve, and it is our pleasure to continue those efforts in new ways, including our new Virtual Field Trips.”

The Home Depot donated more than 500,000 Kids Workshop kits to nonprofit organizations and schools, including Boys & Girls Club of America, ToolBank and YMCA. “We’ll continue to add new virtual projects to keep kids engaged, and the actual kits will be available for free at local Home Depot stores on the first Saturday of each month,” DeStefano said.

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