Graco Enters the Consumer Market

October 19, 2010

These handheld sprayers are Graco's first foray into the consumer market after nearly a century as an industrial manufacturer.

This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for

After nearly a century as a manufacturer of industrial products, Minneapolis-based Graco is making its first foray into consumer marketing.

The company is rolling out a campaign for its new line of handheld paint sprayers that includes an array of broadcast and digital outreach.

It’s a big change from Graco’s successful B2B niche, where it manufactures industrial pumps and systems to handle fluids ranging from oil to glue to foam insulation.

But the new products are based on a marketing insight that I can personally vouch for: the company realized that existing spray painters aimed at the consumer market were junk. (My words, not Graco’s– based on a bad experience with a well-known and heavily advertised brand of spray painter.)

Graco believed it could adapt the proprietary technology from its commercial spray guns to a handheld consumer version, said David Newman, worldwide channel marketing manager for Graco’s Contractor Equipment Division. The consumer spray guns are being sold under the names TrueCoat and ProShot.

“The existing market has been using a 50-year-old technology,” Newman said. “There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with its ability to deliver a professional finish.

“Consumers want something that’s fast, easy and gives a high-quality finish,” he said. “And our competitors can’t deliver it with their technology.”

In the last two weeks, Graco has launched TV spots aimed at the male do-it-yourselfer, aged 35 to 65. The spots have run on premium, high-profile outlets including ESPN, the History Channel and the DIY Network.

Digital marketing includes banner ads and paid keyword searches aimed at “converting Web researchers, the people who are out there doing their homework,” Newman said. There also have been product demos in selected markets. The entire program has been created and executed by Bolin Marketing of Minneapolis.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a vanity website, Newman said the site is performing well in the early going, with 70 percent of the traffic coming from people typing the site’s url directly into their browsers. That’s a very high rate; most traffic to a site typically comes from Web searches that direct browsers there.

Graco is using this campaign as a test to understand the differences between the consumer and B2B markets. The company doesn’t have a lineup of additional consumer products poised to roll out after this one, Newman said, but Graco is clearly interested in exploring opportunities beyond its industrial base.

“We’ve got a lot of good people here, and we’re always looking at new things,” Newman said. “Any time you can enhance the technology in a product area, you want to look at it.”