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Flex Tools Coming to Lowe's


fm2176

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I'm surprised that this hasn't been brought up here, but with Chervon's Flex line of tools coming to Lowe's, what are your thoughts?  I've heard that they are looking to compete with the likes of DeWalt and Milwaukee, that they are looking to dominate like their sibling EGO did with OPE, that they are a DIY brand at best, and that they are little more than beefed up Kobalt tools.  Personally, I have a hard time believing Chervon would release a new cordless platform simply to appeal to Harry Homeowner.  In my opinion, Flex is looking to compete with the so-called "big boys" of the American cordless tool world.

 

Anyway, I watch a lot of YouTube videos, more than I'd care to admit.  Teleworking?  YouTube is on the Chromebook.  Cleaning?  YouTube on the phone, streamed through Ryobi Score speakers.  Showering?  YouTube on the Chromebook or on the rugged phone, streamed through a ToughSystem radio.  Driving?  Okay, usually SiriusXM, but sometimes YouTube streamed through a DeWalt Bluetooth adapter.  You get the point.

 

Over the past week or two, my suggestions have been filled with YouTubers flexing (see what I did there) the tools sent to them for testing and review.  Honestly, I have yet to watch any because we all know what a majority of the videos will be...generic "these are great (because they were free)" reviews, or outright promotions of the new brand.  Okay, I did watch one, from a channel with 132k subscribers, which did not receive any of the promotional tools.  He was overall objective despite his disdain for Lowe's, seemed (to me) a little bitter he didn't receive anything to test, and called out both fellow YouTubers and Flex itself for how skewed a lot of the videos are.  Browsing the comments, it seems that Flex has gotten some level of backlash for the way they selected which "influencers" they chose to promote their products.

 

My humble opinion is that Flex has an uphill battle on its hands.  I have no doubt that Chervon is seeking to compete with the pro-level market leaders by using a known brand for this new platform, with Skil taking a backseat as a less visible but still capable little brother (think DeWalt/Craftsman or Milwaukee/Ridgid.  However, if they want to dislodge brands like Makita and Bosch, much less DeWalt and Milwaukee, from their dominant positions they need to ensure their tools perform and build up a loyal fan base.  Unfortunately, the market is saturated with "best", "good", and "good enough" tool brands that will continue to have their share of consumers, while serious tool users will continue to turn towards their favorite brand.  If Flex is expecting to just come in and compete with our favorite tools, they may be surprised at how biased Americans can be, but with the right marketing and a little patience, I could see this becoming an alternative to the brands we all know and love (or hate).

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Lowes and Flex could have a winner if they pull the Milwaukee playbook when TTI took over they really positioned the brand as a good value proposition with great features and tech. What got people to buy into Mke was the innovative tools, but also the fact they had crazy promotions back then like buy a kit and get 2 4.0 ah batteries.

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One thing that can play strongly to their favor is the simple fact that the same Ah battery has 20% more power than most everyone else’s. It hasn’t helped get Kobalt over the hump into mainstream yet but let’s say Flex tools establishes a decided performance advantage over the “Big Three” that’s too hard for tradespeople (and YouTube) to ignore and that could really propel them forward.

 

But they are most certainly trying to establish themselves in a very crowded field where I think a lot of people aren’t wanting yet another option. Just look at how the current market squeezes a company as venerable as Bosch out to the fringes. Or Hitachi/Metabo having brought forward all these awesome exclusive tools no one else has that in my opinion boost their line to be extremely favorable...yet they are still generally left out of the equation in big tool discussions.

 

And it may not sound kind but Flex’s biggest hurdle may prove to be exclusivity with Lowes. For the sake of competition on the market I definitely want to see Lowes be more competitive (and ACE for that matter), but HD has built such a huge lead when it comes to having secured the tool market. A lot of new Craftsman tools are actually pretty respectable and you’d think sticking that name on a bunch of “Diet Dewalt” tools that perform as well or better than similarly-priced Ryobis should be a home run and yet...it hasn’t been. People just don’t think Lowes when they think of tools.

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On 4/16/2021 at 11:12 PM, ToolBane said:

And it may not sound kind but Flex’s biggest hurdle may prove to be exclusivity with Lowes. For the sake of competition on the market I definitely want to see Lowes be more competitive (and ACE for that matter), but HD has built such a huge lead when it comes to having secured the tool market. A lot of new Craftsman tools are actually pretty respectable and you’d think sticking that name on a bunch of “Diet Dewalt” tools that perform as well or better than similarly-priced Ryobis should be a home run and yet...it hasn’t been. People just don’t think Lowes when they think of tools.

The Lowes exclusivity is slightly misleading. They are treating the brand like Milwaukee. Available at one of the big 3 but also available at smaller retailers. FLEX will start at Lowes but eventually be available at smaller retailers.

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FLEX is only using 18650 cells at least for now. I don't know if Chervon has any 21700 celled products. One drawback of the line in my opinion. I think some of the tests during FLEX's video were genuine but others were not. In the coming weeks I expect we will see a more complete picture of the FLEX tools as reviewers create their own test that are unbiased towards FLEX. I think Lowes and Chervon are using a similar 3 brand tactic as TTI and HD. MIlwaukee/FLEX for the Professional, Ridgid/Kobalt for Prosumer, and Ryobi/Skil for homeowner.

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