NEW YORK: Lowe's, the home improvement retailer, is undertaking a concerted effort to ally with innovative partners in a bid to enhance both its marketing and its grasp of new technologies.

Kyle Nel, director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, told delegates at the Neuromarketing World Forum – an event held by the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association – that the rate of change is now "exponential".

Lowe's Innovation Lab is thus seeking to identify and work with academics, start-ups and other organisations – currently including NASA – that give it access to useful tools, ideas and intellectual property.

This approach reflects a desire to avoid adopting the mentality of operators like Kodak and Blockbuster – which had consistently refined their existing products and services, but been blindsided by new technology.

"No one is doing anything wrong," said Nel. "They are just improving and not innovating. That's how you get 'Blockbuster-ed' and that's how you get 'Kodak-ed.'" (For more, including why marketing research is currently a "disaster", read Warc's exclusive report: Marketing research and the danger of the "blob".)

"This huge, wonderful platform that you've spent all this time building up and changing: it gets wiped out in one fell swoop.

"That kind of stuff scares me and scares our executives. And that's why we're doing this thing called the Innovation Labs."

One company that Lowe's Innovation Labs has partnered with is Neurons Inc., a neuromarketing firm that has reduced the cost and increased the speed of this process, alongside delivering actionable results.

"It has been hugely, hugely successful for inside of Lowe's, and especially inside of Innovation Labs," said Nel.

Tapping into the insights offered by "applied neuroscience" feeds into another core goal of Lowe's Innovation Labs as outlined by Nel: namely, understanding what factors truly impact human behaviour.

To share its learnings and draw on those of others, the Innovation Labs belongs to a "consortium" of non-competing organisations, ranging from quick-service chain Chick-fil-A to the World Bank.

"We get together and we talk about innovation – everything from marketing research through robotics – and I share that with that broad consortium," said Nel.

Data sourced from Warc