Let met start by asking you a simple question. You’re shopping for tape measures at the store, and you pick up two competing 25-foot tape measures. One has 14 feet of reach, and the other 12 feet of standout. Which tape measure has the stronger blade extension?
I picked up this 2-pack of Craftsman USA-made (with global materials) Auto-Lock tape measures. It seemed like a good deal, and might make for an interesting post discussion. Who can’t use more tape measures? Oh… me.
This tape looks familiar…
So, apparently I bought one last year at Lowe’s, just at the start of the holiday season when a bunch of new-to-market Craftsman tools and tape measures popped up for the first time.
I found this tape in my pile of “stuff from the 2018 holiday season,” where there were a couple of tool review ideas, a few other Craftsman tape measures, and some accessories and bits that I haven’t used yet as I’ve still been working from my 2017 holiday season stockpile.
Part 1: Discovery
Wait. This is the same tape measure, right? Yep – model CMHT37725.
So why is the 2018 version of this Craftsman tape measure advertised as having 11′ of standout, and the 2019 version advertised as having 14′ of reach?
On the Lowe’s website product description for the tape measures, it says:
11 feet of standout (claim based on maximum performance)
So what’s this “14′ of reach” talking about?
Looking at the back of the packaging, the 2019 edition Craftsman tape measure only mentions 14′ of reach – there’s no mention of standout that I can find.
Last year’s product packaging only talks about standout, which is near-universal industry language to describe the absolute maximum of blade extension – under ideal circumstances – before an unsupported blade will collapse under its own weight.
Part 2: Confusion – What is “Reach?”
I very roughly compared the tape measures before passing the single pack off to a visiting family member for use and testing. (That’s why they’re still in packaging, plus I was in shock and didn’t want to waste time removing the tapes.) It *seemed* that the newer version arced a little less, but standout was certainly not anywhere near 14 feet.
Okay, so Craftsman did not somehow upgrade the tape measure since last year, at least not very noticeably.
How is reach defined if it’s not the same thing as standout?
Is This an Isolated Example?
It’s at this time that I decided to do some digging.
On their website, Dewalt describes their DWHT36107 tape measure as having 10′ of standout and 13′ of reach. Well, at least they offer both specs.
But what does the in-store packaging say?
Oh, c’mon! Dewalt’s tape measure and laser distance measuring tool bundle pack says 13′ reach on the front packaging. I completely missed this.
What about the 2-pack featuring the same Dewalt tape measures? Again, 13′ reach. I didn’t think to check or photograph the back of the packaging to see if there’s any clarifying information. Why? Because I didn’t notice anything special about the “reach” advertisements when I was at the store!
Looking at the graphic that says “13′ reach,” I simply think “standout,” because that’s what I’m accustomed to.
With tape measures, it’s taken for granted, but if you see blade extension and a measurement value, you also think “standout,” right?
The Stanley tape measure display was similar – “14′ reach.” These same tapes were advertised as having 11′ of standout in the past.
Is this something that only Dewalt, Craftsman, Stanley, and perhaps other Stanley Black & Decker brands are now doing with all their tape measures, or is it just on these promo packs aimed at Black Friday and Holiday season shoppers? (We reached out to our Stanley Black & Decker contact about this and hope to hear back.)
What About Other Brands?
What about other brands? Is this a new industry standard that I somehow missed the memo on?
Lufkin, who annoyed us with a marketing practice of their own clearly has their tapes advertised with maximum standout, which is 14′ for these ShockForce Nite Eye tape measures.
Will shoppers strolling the promo displays at home centers realize that standout and reach are not the same thing?
Maybe this is some kind of shift in industry standard that Lufkin has not adopted yet? What about Milwaukee?
No… Milwaukee is advertising their tape measure promo pack as having 12′ of standout.
So far, I have only seen Stanley Black & Decker brands, namely Dewalt, Craftsman, and Stanley, advertising their Holiday 2019 promo pack tape measures (at the least) with “reach” specs instead of “standout.”
So what is reach? If standout is the maximum blade extension under ideal circumstances, and is dependent on the tape measure blade shape, size, strength, and other factors, what is “reach?” From the numbers, it seems that “reach” is the standout plus 3-feet.
I am guessing that “reach” is meant to represent the maximum blade extension when a user holds a tape measure at maximum standout with one hand, and then extends that hand three feet out from the other hand that’s still holding the tape measure itself.
I can never control a tape measure at its maximum standout – even tape blades with long standout tend to flop around a foot or two short of official specs. There is no humanly feasible way I can support a tape measure at maximum standout, and then hold the blade out three feet away from where my second hand is holding the tape measure.
How Will This Affect Competition? Customer Perception?
If you see a Milwaukee tape measure on the shelf with 12′ standout and a Dewalt tape measure with 13′ reach, what will be your first thought?
As mentioned, I didn’t even notice the “standout” vs. “reach” marketing differentiation until I directly compared the packaging for my 2019 Craftsman promo tape measure purchase to packaging from 2018.
Then, it was only through the process of writing this post that I noticed the “blade reach” marketing extended (do you see what I did here?) beyond just that Craftsman tape measure example.
Looking at Craftsman’s website, the first tape we talk about here is described as having 11′ of standout. Dewalt’s page for their promo pack tape measure is advertised as having both 10′ standout and 13′ reach, and when you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, past the images, specs, and user reviews, it says “Based on maximum extension of average professional user.” But isn’t that just standout?
Does it matter what it says on the website when the in-store product packaging prominently advertises “reach” instead of “standout?”
At the bottom of the Craftsman packaging card, next to where it says Join the Club, it also says “based on the maximum extension of average professional user.” I honestly don’t know what this means, as it seems to be the definition for standout.
The older Craftsman tape doesn’t describe what “standout” is, presumably because it’s an established and expected specification.
Here’s what I’m wondering:
Am I the only one who sees 14′ on tape measure packaging and thinks “standout,” instead of this new “reach” figure?
I feel silly for completely missing the “reach” vs. “standout” distinction on the packaging. This didn’t factor into my purchasing decision, but will it make a difference for others who are shopping for themselves or others and not as a tool news and review editor?
Do you think that people will see “14′ reach” and think “oh, that’s better than 12′ standout, I should buy this Craftsman, Dewalt, or Stanley tape measure instead?”
This doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, or at the least it’s not friendly to consumers.
I like to think that I’m an observant person, and I take pride in that. If this new marketing language made it past me, what will that mean for the throngs of shoppers that will soon descend on home centers for Black Friday 2019 and the following holiday shopping season to score some new tool deals for themselves and others?
Will shoppers compare these tape measures’ “reach” value against other brands’ “standout?”
At my local Home Depot, Dewalt tape measure 2-packs, advertised as having 13′ reach, are positioned close to Milwaukee tape measure 2-packs that are advertised as having 12′ standout.
How many shoppers will see 13′ and 12′ values and come to conclusions about the higher-numbered tape measure being “better”? Which would you assume has the stronger or longer blade extension?
We heard back from Stanley Black & Decker: