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I wonder – how have Craftsman Tools, Ryobi Tools, and Kobalt Tools compared against each other, with respect to consumer interest trends?
Let’s use Google Trends to compare relative interest for the 3 search terms over time.
Craftsman has a very broad product catalog, and the same could be said about Kobalt, while Ryobi is mainly a power tool brand.
Thus, I should caution that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. A fairer comparison would be to compare trends for more specific and narrow-focused terms, such as “Craftsman V20 vs Ryobi 18V vs Kobalt 24V.”
Still, the results should be interesting and presumably accurate-enough to depict the brands’ relative consumer interest and popularity over time.
Craftsman is a Stanley Black & Decker tool brand, and is predominantly sold at Lowe’s. Craftsman produces a very wide range of tools and accessories, and also lifestyle-type home and garage products and accessories.
Ryobi is a TTI brand – for the sake of this conversation – that is exclusive to Home Depot. Ryobi primarily offers power tools and equipment, as well as accessories, storage products, and they have been dabbling more in hand tools.
Kobalt is a Lowe’s tool brand. Their visibility seemed to dip in recent years, as Lowe’s focused more energy on promoting Craftsman tools and related products. But, we have been seeing more Kobalt tools in-store and online, and it seemed interesting to throw the brand into the mix.
Note: The charts embedded below are interactive, as opposed to being screenshots. Please let me know if you have problems with them – I can swap in images if needed, but they won’t be as sharp.
Update: The Google Trends embeds weren’t working well on all mobile devices, and so I replaced them with static images. You can replicate these efforts at Google Trends.
On average for the past 12 months (ending August 31, 2022), there was slightly more search traffic for “Ryobi Tools” than “Craftsman Tools.”
There is enough relative interest for “Kobalt Tools” for me to glad I included it here.
Looking at the 5-year trend, this is where things get even more interesting.
Craftsman (red), Ryobi (yellow), and Kobalt (blue) are plotted for the period of September 1, 2017 thru August 31, 2022. Each data point reflects one week’s worth of search frequency.
It seems that there has been a distinct decline in the relative interest for Craftsman Tools, but mainly during holiday shopping seasons.
Unsurprisingly, there are two discernable peaks for Craftsman and Ryobi search terms – a significant peak that coincides with the winter holiday shopping season, and a subtler peak that approximately coincides with late-spring and Father’s Day.
Craftsman – The overall inter-holiday-season average appears to have remained fairly steady over the past 5 years. However, there is a distinct downwards trend with respect to seasonal peaks, suggesting waning popularity.
Ryobi – Inter-seasonal popularity for “Ryobi Tools” has been steadily increasing. Their interest peaks have also been increasing in max amplitude over time.
It’s interesting to note that the interest in Ryobi Tools was higher around June 2018 than December 2017 and 2018 periods. This could be due to Father’s Day, the spring DIY season, or other seasonal factors.
The same seemed to happen in subsequent years. There’s as much search interest – if not more – around June compared to December.
Kobalt – Lowe’s private label tool brand has maintained consistent interest throughout the period, although they don’t seem to enjoy the same seasonal interest and popularity peaks as the other brands examined here.
The bar graph to the left of each chart shows the comparative total interest over the entire selected period.
For the 12-month period ending August 31, 2022, Ryobi Tools was a slightly more common search term than Craftsman Tools.
For the 5-year period ending on August 31, 2022, Craftsman Tools was more searched-for than Ryobi Tools, but this is largely due to the period between September 2017 and March 2020.
If we look at a 2-year trend, search interest for Craftsman Tools and Ryobi Tools are close to even. As seen in the 12-month trend, it appears that interest in Ryobi surpassed that for Craftsman, at least short-term.
Are These Comparisons Fair?
Here’s where we get into more academic discussion – if you’re interested.
What if we look at Craftsman vs Ryobi vs Kobalt, as opposed to “Brand + Tools” keywords? The chart then looks very different, but there’s greater uncertainty.
Do all of these search terms for “Craftsman” refer to the tool brand, or do they also refer to craftsman, a person skilled in a particular craft?
Adding a secondary term such as “Tools” examines a subset of data, but this should help to more confidently avoid uncertainties or factors that could throw things off.
Here is a 10-year chart comparing search interest in “Kobalt,” “Craftsman,” and “Ryobi.” These trends can still be of interest if you take into account that there could be non-tool-related search interest mixed in with what we’re actually looking for.
There’s always the potential for data to be skewed, and so it’s a better idea to compare trends than to compare hard data.
For instance, it’s apparent in the plots that peak interest in Craftsman Tools has declined somewhat over the past 5 years, and that interest in Ryobi Tools seems to have increased.
We can look at relative interest in “Craftsman Tools” and “Ryobi Tools,” but this might not perfectly reflect consumer interest in or the popularity of Craftsman tools vs. Ryobi tools.
“Craftsman tools” might still not always be intended as “Craftsman brand tools.”
If the same search term can mean different things, and interest in the different meanings vary over time, the trend data will be meaningless and unreliable.
Meaning, if “Craftsman tools” (tools by Craftsman) and “craftsman tools” (tools by or for craftsmen) change wildly with time, then it’s much harder to draw any conclusions from search interest for the term.
This chart shows a 10-year comparison between interest in “Kobalt,” “Craftsman Tools,” and “Ryobi Tools.”
And this chart shows the same, but with “Kobalt Tools” in place of “Kobalt.”
This is why a comparison of “Brand + Tools” terms is better than just “brand” vs “brand” vs “brand.”
Interestingly, there seems to be increasing interest in “Kobalt” over the past 10 years, whereas interest in “Kobalt Tools” has been relatively flat.
But, if we conduct a test search for “Kobalt,” we see that it’s also a music company and comic book character, among other things. “Kobalt Tools” is more specific, without being too focused.
Ryobi 18V vs Craftsman V20 vs Kobalt 24V
This is a 4-year chart showing relative interest in Ryobi 18V compared to Craftsman V20 and Kobalt 24V.
Ryobi’s cordless system is far older and broader than newer systems by Craftsman and Kobalt, and so in addition to new users, there’s a much larger existing user base already interested in the brand.
These trends are not surprising.
It seems that interest in Craftsman and Kobalt cordless systems have been about on-par with each other, and that is surprising.
If we look at one-year trends, “Kobalt 24V” seems to have drawn a little more interest than “Craftsman V20.”
However, do Craftsman V20 users and potential users search “Craftsman V20” as much as a Kobalt 24V user might search for “Kobalt 24V?”
“Craftsman cordless” is a more popular search term than “Kobalt cordless.”
What about “Craftsman cordless” vs “Craftsman V20?”
“Craftsman C3” – Sears-era Craftsman cordless system vs “Craftsman V20”?
From a chart that also adds in “Craftsman 19.2V,” we can see that the “C3” line name was a more popular search term. This gives credibility to the idea that “Craftsman V20” is likely a fair measure of popularity or interest for the present system under Stanley Black & Decker ownership.
But, Craftsman V20 is not as unambiguous a product line as Craftsman C3. Craftsman 20V seems to be a slightly more popular search term, whereas C3 was a significantly more popular term than 19.2V when the brand maintained that cordless system when still under Sears ownership.
This is interesting – Kobalt 18V vs 20V vs 24V. The trends suggest far greater interest and relative popularity for the modern 24V Max system. I did not expect this.
Data, Results, Conclusion
Collecting data is easy.
Extracting results from that data takes a little more effort.
Drawing conclusions – that’s the hard part.
How would you interpret the data shown above?
To me, it seems that Ryobi is an overall upwards trend, Kobalt is flat but consistently steady, and Craftsman has been on a slight decline, especially from holiday season to holiday season.
Comparing relative popularities might not be entirely fair or accurate, but we can see how interest trends for the respective search terms – Craftsman Tools, Ryobi Tools, Kobalt Tools – compare against each other.