This past weekend, I made a routine shopping trip to Lowe’s. Strolling around the store, I was stunned to see a large poster marking the entry to one of the aisles: New Innovation. My first reaction was that this was a mistake and that the two words belonged to two different writings. But no, below the “New Innovation” in English, there was a version of the same in Spanish: La Nuova Innovacion. Unable to restrain my curiosity, I walked down this particular aisle trying to find any goods deserving such an ambitious description. I found nothing: the aisle was full of the usual stuff–mostly plywood–that I’ve seen there before (unless, of course, I missed some new and highly innovative sizes).
For a split second, I entertained an idea to approach the Lowe’s personnel and ask them what exactly “new innovation” means. And, perhaps, inquire whether they’re going to create a section “Innovation on Sale.” Then, for the reasons anyone can understand, I rejected this idea.
Are we going crazy about using the word “innovation”? I already wrote that innovation has become a buzzword, with inevitable dilution of its original meaning and unfortunate attempts to use it to describe something innovation is not. I can understand the desire of the Lowe’s management to impress visitors of their stores with catchy slogans. Yet, by doing this in such a silly way, they mislead not only them but they own employees as well. Either way, this is a huge disservice to the Lowe’s brand.
No, I don’t call for a word police; nor do I see any sense in having one. I do however expect marketing professionals working for retail sector understand the meaning of words they’re using. And I really expect them paying respect to innovation–as an innovation manager and as a consumer.