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How Craftsman Found Growth Within Its Legacy

When I was younger my grandparents had a farm where we did a lot of building – treehouses, birdhouses, fences, stalls, etc. What I remember most was how many tools my grandfather had in his garage. Fast forward to when I packed up for college and my first apartment: I recall asking my mom to get me a toolbox. I did not want a generic “toolbox”; I wanted one with only Craftsman Tools like those my grandfather and I used for all our projects. Fast forward to today: I began to wonder how Craftsman’s legacy has changed over time specifically with Sears closing so many of their retail locations. What has changed for this incredible brand that has left its mark on so many?

If you are not as familiar with the tool market, Craftsman plays in the Hand Tools & Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) categories. When we examine Hand Tools specifically, the Craftsman brand covers nearly a third of all wrenches – sets and individual, a quarter of all tool chests, ratchet and mechanics tool sets sold – dollar share is as equally strong, if not better, among these key products. Craftsman still retains its position as the leader in the US tool market for both unit share and dollar share (Source: TraQline 2020), but their journey has been rocky.

The outlook was grim for Craftsman as their share saw year-over-year declines starting in 2013 and continued to 2018 with only 2017 not seeing a significant decline – all likely a result of Sears closing their doors (Source: TraQline R4QE September, 2020). In early 2017, Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) made the bid to purchase the 90-year old tool brand in an effort to build up their growing tool business – which currently commands 10 percent of the brand share for the last year as reported by TraQline. SBD leveraged their partnerships and moved to extend the Craftsman name to key retailers.

chart showing Sears and Lowe's share of Craftsman over time

One major Home Improvement (HI) chain benefitted greatly as Lowe’s began selling Craftsman in 2018. It was then that Craftsman share began to make some uphill strides following the tumultuous decline seen in prior years. In addition, we can see a direct transition from Sears to Lowe’s for the OPE category – exactly where Sears significantly drops, Lowe’s significantly gains unit share among Craftsman purchases.

While it has not completely rebounded to its earlier highs, Craftsman has been gaining unit shares. The brand has also seen significant growth in some quarters since the partnership began. However as with many key businesses, COVID-19 has likely played a part in the significant declines seen by Craftsman in the last several months.

While the journey has not been easy for the Craftsman brand, it’s good to see they are weathering the storm with time and new outlets. Want more information on your brands and how they compare over time? Contact a TraQline Representative today – we are happy to help you identify key traits among your brand purchasers as well as your overall brand performance.

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TraQline's Dave Stevenson, PH.D President & CEO
Dave Stevenson, PH.D
President & CEO

Before launching The Stevenson Company in 1995, President and CEO Dave Stevenson managed worldwide research for product development, distribution, advertising, and customer satisfaction. His roles, first as head of the marketing section of General Motors’ worldwide product planning group, and later as director of GE Appliances’ global economics and market research team, give him extensive experience in consumer as well as business to business marketing solutions. Mr. Stevenson holds a Ph.D. in statistics from Southern Methodist University.