Lowes x SCAD

Connecting with millennials through DIY projects

Strategy Design / Event Design
Strategy designed for "The UpSkill Project powered by Lowe’s" that aims to build a community of millennial DIYers and provide a safe space to gain confidence through pop-up events. 
The UpSkill Project

"The UpSkill Project gives homeowners the ability to shape their homes and transform their lives through skill-based learning. We believe this is your time to join a movement of empowered and confident DIYers who are revitalizing their homes and communities" 
- The UpSkill Project Website
The challenge

— How might we help Lowe’s reach millennials by developing a framework for pop-up events at Lowe’s parking lots that fosters home-improvement skills, creates community, and empowers individuals? ​​​​​​​

Lowe's approached the design team (20 SCAD students) with the clear objective of creating a community of millennial DIYers by providing a safe space to learn, connect, and gain confidence through pop-up events. 

The challenge was to research and develop concepts for DIY skill-learning events for a millennial audience to drive connectivity for both the brand and local store.
Understanding the field

The company provided the team with customer profiles and findings from testing workshops it had conducted. Nevertheless, in order to fully understand the subject of study, secondary and primary research was conducted on topics such as home improvement skills, common D.I.Y. problems, pop-up events, and millennials housing and buying habits.

The team conducted observation and field visits to Lowe's stores, surveys, cultural probes, and interviews with home improvement professionals, millennials, Lowe's employees and customers.
From 'Do It Yourself' to 'Do It Together'

To understand the users' needs, aspirations, challenges and attitudes towards DIY and home improvement, a data analysis applying the Affinity Mapping technique was done. The process helped the team identify patterns and relationships which led to 3 core insights.
Do It Together

Users feel more confident to try DIY projects when they have someone next to them that can help them and accompany them through the journey. 'Do It Together', rather than 'Do It Yourself',  starts with the promise that the best things are the ones built together.
Empowerment

There is a strong sense of empowerment associated with DIY projects. Being able to accomplish projects that seem impossible at the beginning and learning new skills while doing them, generates a sense of validation among users, which translates into empowered individuals who dare to take on new challenges.
Hands On  Learning

DIY culture in the digital age is defined by online tutorials, videos and blogs; and although they are popular, they are not completely useful since they only exhibit the glamorous side without showing users that it is a process of trial and error.
Ideation and co-creation

The core insights helped act as design criteria for concept development. 300 unique concepts were developed, discussed, and improved with additional ideas, leading to 6 main concepts.

A co-creation session was hosted with the client to not only pitch the ideas, but integrate their knowledge and priorities to further develop one comprehensive concept.
Prototyping

After co-creating with the client and refining a comprehensive concept, the team conducted two low fidelity versions of the envisioned event in order to understand the users reactions to the event's proposed structure, activities, assets and layout.

For the first prototype the design team collaborated with Lowe's local store to set up a pop-up event in the parking lot where window box workshop was conducted.

The second prototype was installed in a public space near a university to have a greater presence of millennials and see their interest in the proposed event.

Refinement

After prototyping and gathering the feedback from participants and client, the concept was refined and fully developed, from a framework to the event layout.
Lowe's: The UpSkill Project Framework

The strategy is composed of three levels that help determine the DIY skills and the theme of the 'UpSkill' events to allow Lowe's connect with new generations. 

The first level is defined by 'The UpSkill Project' purpose of providing homeowners confidence to experience their “I can do this!” DIY moment and transform their homes.

The next level is the ‘Love your home trends’ level, a concept created to provide a curated selection of decoration and home improvement trends that enables the constant evolution of the pop-up events and the definition of the theme, skills, projects, and activities for the event, which represent the final level. 

This concept allows the brand to become a trendsetter in the field of home improvement and decoration. Thus, UpSkill is not only providing the space for learning, but also advising the audience what they should explore according to the most recent decoration trends.
The learning space

01 Reception: Located in front and in the center of the space, the reception will allow the brand to attract customers to the event. 

02 Creative Lounge: Next to the reception, user can find a creative lounge. 
This lounge is a social space where customers can enjoy their time without and find information and inspiration of the most recent “Love Your Home" trends. 

03 Skill Stations: Located around the the tent, a set of skill stations will be places and assigned with a specific skills to teach participants without the need of engaging in a full workshop.

04. Workshop Station: Placed in the middle of the space, the workshop station is formed by 4 communal counter high tables where participants have free space to build a main home improvement piece and interact with others.
Connecting with Lowe's Employees

The UpSkill Project not only wants to empower customers, but also encourage its employees, "red-vests", to be part of the home improvement community.

Through the research we found that most of 'red-vests' have home improvement skills they use in their regular lives, that is why we suggest to make red-vests feel proud of these skills and share them with the customers. Our proposal is a design upgrade for current vest that will show a list of home improvement skills that red-vests can mark according to their skills.

The design has three main goals: 

1. To create a connection between the red-vest and the customer by providing an icebreaker to start a conversation about the skill that the red-vest can teach the customer.

2. To detect the skills of each red-vest to define who can help in the workshop as a teacher or as a mentor for the participants

3. To know the area of opportunity for them to learn new skills next to the UpSkill participants, not as a teacher, but as a regular person learning with others. 
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