Fifty2 – The MPB Project: Sears – Craftsman

Sears - Craftsman - Front“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S.  across all retail channels. The weekly series looks at each great Private Brand with insight, Fifty2 The MPB Project Logoanalysis and original photography. In early 2014, this will be published as my first book along with a several new chapters that focus on strategy, packaging and design learnings from the included brands.

I am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS – brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email

Sears - Craftsman - Fuel - 1Craftsman
There are few brands in America — much less Private Brands — that inspire loyalty and passion like Craftsman Tools. In 2012, the brand was estimated to have more than $2.5 billion in sales with over 6,000 sku’s in 80 different business segments, with a 33% market share in the hand tool market and a 14% share in the power tool market. Over the last few years Craftsman has broken out of the Sears toolbox and been introduced in Kmart, Orchard Supply Hardware, Ace Hardware, US Military Army and Air Force Exchanges, Costco, Grainger and Summit Racing Equipment.

In 1927 Sears hired hardware expert Arthur Barrows to lead the hardware department. Barrows believed the retailer needed a credible, ownable brand that differentiated them from manufacturers. He liked the name Craftsman (at the time was owned by the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company) and Sears acquired the Craftsman trademark in October of that year for $500. That same year, Sears introduced the first line of Craftsman branded hand tools complete with the now legendary unconditional Lifetime Warranty in the Sears Hardware and Cutlery catalog.

After 86 years the brand continues to grow and innovate – buttressing their ailing retail parent and consistently winning consumer trust and quality awards. Craftsman was singled out as America’s top Power Tool brand by the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend study. In 2010, Popular Mechanics Magazine awarded Craftsman the 2010 Reader’s Choice Award, and named the brand the favorite Hand Tool brand for the second year in a row.

Craftsman has moved well beyond your grandfather’s garage to become a brand experience. In 2010, the retailer opened the Craftsman Experience store in Chicago, completely immersing customers in the Brand and featuring a variety of hands-on activities, learning opportunities and product testing.

In 2012, they leveraged the excitement of the US Presidential race to create an innovative promotional and philanthropic campaign, the House United Program. They set up outside the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. One half of a house was built by delegates and volunteers at the RNC and the other half was built by delegates and volunteers at the DNC. The divided house was completed in Charlotte, NC, and then donated to a military veteran. Tapping into the philanthropic nature of the event and showcasing it at the two conventions, Craftsman was able to capture the hearts of their customers.

Most recently, Craftsman attended New York Comic Con with its own custom publication, a DC comic book staring the new superhero, The Technician and his Craftsman Bolt-On tool, bringing Craftsman to the next generation of tool enthusiasts.

The current expression of the brand in store and on pack both skillfully balances the equities and heritage of the last 86 years with an authentic, credible and contemporary expression of tough. Craftsman is the living proof that retailers can create, build and manage Brands as assets that customer know and love.

Brand: Craftsman
Brand Focus:
Sears Holdings
Hoffman Estates, Ill.
2011 USA Retail Sales ($000):
2011 Stores:

To submit a brand for consideration please email



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.