Inside Lowe’s Shark Tank-inspired initiative to find new products

The series, which aired on YouTube, is hosted by Daymond John.

Campaign: Making It…With Lowe’s
Company: Lowe’s
Agency partners: FleishmanHillard (PR) 
Duration: February 2021 

Growing and promoting a small business is hard, particularly for entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. 

“Just getting to the front door of a company like ours can be daunting, let alone having help getting your foot inside it,” said Marisa Thalberg, EVP and chief brand and marketing officer at Lowe’s. 

To make the process more accessible, as well as create a new way to identify new, innovative products it could sell at its stores, Lowe’s set out to create a virtual pitch program called Making It…With Lowe’s. 

Strategy
The goal was to help “entrepreneurs break through the traditional pitch process for potential direct access to our executive leadership and, in round one, mentorship from Shark Tank’s Daymond John,” Thalberg said. “We want our products to be as diverse and interesting as the customers we serve.” 

Tactics
Before the pandemic, Lowe’s merchandising unit held internal pitch days, where new products were introduced. The company wanted to expand this program to include products and ideas from outside entrepreneurs. In this sense, the pandemic provided an opportunity. 

“As we all adapted to doing business virtually, we realized, why not invite entrepreneurs to share their dreams with us the same way?” Thalberg said. 

In September, the company opened a call to entrepreneurs, inviting them to pitch their products to Lowe’s team. From there, applications were reviewed. Eight finalists were invited to a one-day virtual pitch event hosted by John in November.  

On February 18, Lowe’s announced its three finalists and debuted round 1 of the competition on YouTube.

“Viewers can watch behind-the-scenes footage of the pitch process, including the moment they found out their products would be advancing,” Thalberg said.  

To promote the campaign, Lowe’s sent out two press releases: the first when it began accepting applications and the second to announce its top three entrepreneurs. The initiative was also pitched to a wide array of publications, from local newsrooms to national outlets.  

Results
Lowe’s received more than 1,300 submissions. It is currently considering more than 400 new products to sell on Lowes.com and in its stores.  

Collectively, Making It…With Lowe’s generated over 300 earned media placements, including write-ups in Fox, CNN and CNBC. On social media, the campaign drove over 6 million engagements, including over 5.5 million video views across social platforms.  

The company also announced that it is working on a season two, which will air in the fall.

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