B&Q is one of my favourite retail brands at the moment, something I’m a little shocked at.
It announced this week that it is to invest £35m in its digital platforms and along with a number of other recently announced marketing initiatives, B&Q has shown that it is shaking off its DIY dustsheets and upping its game in the lifestyle sector.
While I’m proud to have built a bed, two bookcases and a CD rack with my own fair hands (from flatpack of course) I’m the first to say that DIY is not my forte and I’ve never thought B&Q was aimed at me.
It’s a brand that is overlooked and underrated by many. Long written off as a purveyor of fence posts and grouting, associated with middle aged men who will readily spend four hours pottering around its warehouse like stores and come away with a sink washer and bag of cement sand.
But it’s now looking to give itself a makeover to broaden its appeal and show that it’s every bit as relevant for a young twenty something looking for modern home furnishings and a family looking to decorate or do up the garden.
At its recent spring summer press event, I was bowled over by the range of beautiful home interiors and soft furnishings that B&Q stocks and I wanted to buy. Things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Habitat catalogue.
Over the next three years, B&Q is planning to overhaul its multi-channel operations in the hope of creating a seamless experience whether customers choose to use its online site, stores, phone or mobile devices.
In a wildly different shaped piece of the same puzzle, if you happen across a B&Q store next weekend (5 March) you might find its staff and customers learning a dance routine to the Black Eyed Peas “I got a feeling” en masse.
The Black Eyed Peas isn’t usual B&Q material and while it’s not the most high-brow of stunts, it’s a living, breathing, dancing rendition of B&Q’s “you can do it” ethos. Designed to show customers (and the media) that with some simple guidance, anyone can learn to do anything – be it dancing or decorating.
In another great move, B&Q has also managed to sign up the darling of home and lifestyle TV, Kirstie Allsopp, to front a campaign to encourage people to do more home decorating and make things for their homes.
Allsopp, famed for her on screen banter with fellow Relocation, Relocation presenter Phil Spencer and her nauseatingly addictive craft show Kirstie’s Homemade Home, oozes the “you can do it” spirit and adds a generous portion of glam to B&Q’s consumer activity.
She manages to make everyone watching believe that they too can make their home into a handcrafter luxury boutique with nothing but a few scraps of fabric and glue gun.
For most of us, it’s a pipe dream, but at least it makes you want to try. And the same goes for B&Q and its lifestyle led push.
Last but certainly not least, B&Q has launched a customer magazine called B&Q Home.
Bursting at the seams with home and garden focused editorial content, including ideas for making DIY easier, new products and advice on how to approach home and garden projects. It will of course feature Allsopp alongside B&Q’s other celebrity ambassadors Alan Titchmarsh and George Clarke.
It’s no coincidence that late last year, B&Q appointed former Asda marketer Katherine Peterson as marketing director and at the same time, reinstated the position to its executive board. B&Q knows that marketing, brand strategy and consumer perception are the foundation when bidding to change perceptions.