Lowe’s Stands Up To Racism; Increases Positive Online Sentiment and Brand Loyalty

Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse logo. (PRNewsFoto)
Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse logo. (PRNewsFoto)

Today, I have to give props to the home improvement empire, Lowe’s.

You may have seen the story: an ignorant, racist customer called Lowe’s to complain that the company sent (gasp!) a black man to deliver an item she’d purchased at the store.

Marcus Bradley has been delivering for Lowe’s for eleven years and has an impeccable customer service record. While en route to deliver this particular package, Marcus was told by one of the store’s managers to return to the store so another driver could make the delivery. When Bradley asked the manager why he couldn’t deliver it, he was told,”because you’re black.”

Bradley’s delivery partner for the past 11 years, Alex Brooks (a white man), was asked by the manager to go out on the delivery with another white driver, but he refused, saying:

“To me, it just ain’t right for a business that we work at to go along with the woman’s wishes.”

Lowe’s Spokesman Steve Salazar says the North Carolina-based company agreed with Brooks and acted swiftly by firing the three managers who were involved in the decision, saying:

“We have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

Salazar also said a senior-level executive later went to the store to personally apologize to Bradley.

“We want to make sure our drivers know they have our full support.”

From a moral position, I think we can all agree that Lowe’s did the absolute correct and necessary thing.

Lowe's imprives image by standing up to racismAnd, from a PR standpoint, it was also strategically wise.

Brands that stand up for their workers and/or make it clear where they stand on social issues build strong bonds with employees and consumers who share the view. In fact, 79% of Millennials choose or boycott products, stores and services based on that brand’s allegiance to social issues.

Anyone who watches the news or scrolls through social media knows race relations have been murderously tense in the U.S. these past few years. By publicly defending their employee and taking a stand on the racism issue, Lowe’s has already seen positive press.

What’s even more impressive is, according to a quick comparison of online chatter prior to the story breaking and after word got out about Lowe’s response, the brand has seen: a 26% uptick in social media conversation with a 63% increase in positive sentiment above neutral; and a 27% increase over negative sentiment. (Data from Pinpoint Market Research and Anderson Jones PR).

In other words, doing the right thing isn’t just good for the soul; it’s good business.

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