Best Product – Milwaukee Tool Adopts Tape Measure “Reach” Specs

Milwaukee Stud 25ft Tape Measure in a medium sized hand

Milwaukee tool will be updating their tape measure marketing over the next few months, adopting the “reach” spec that Stanley Black & Decker quietly introduced at the start of the 2019 holiday shopping season.

I can understand why SBD adopted the new metric for Stanley and Dewalt tape measures, or at least why they say they created the new marketing term, but what it comes down to is that a key marketing spec was instantly increased for all of their tape measures. 7 feet of standout became 10 feet of reach. Tapes with 11 feet of standout were now being advertised as having 14 feet of reach.


Stanley Tape Measure Display at Home Depot November 2019

Stanley Black & Decker didn’t waste any time updating their packaging or in-store displays.

Whether you trust in SBD’s explanation for how all Stanley, FatMax, and Dewalt tape measures will now be advertised, the change is permanent and impactful.

Stanley FatMax Tape Measure with Reach Marketing

At Home Depot, this Stanley FatMax 30′ tape measure ($25) is advertised as having 14 feet of reach.

Dewalt Tape Measure with Reach Marketing

This Dewalt 30′ tape measure ($20) is advertised as having 13 feet of reach.

Milwaukee Tape Measure with Standout Marketing

Finally, this Milwaukee 30′ tape measure is advertised as having 12 feet of standout.

13 feet and 14 feet of reach are NOT bigger and better than 12 feet of standout, but will shoppers understand what these terms mean?

Even today, I’ve seen and continue to hear from people that are still confused about 20V Max. It has been years, and not everyone is informed about 20V Max and 18V being the same voltages when it comes with Li-ion battery packs.

How long might it be before Reach vs. Standout are widely understood and interpreted as two different tape measure specs?

Milwaukee Standout Reach Visual

“Reach” does make sense, and Milwaukee’s graphic for highlighting it makes things clear. Standout is the point where a tape measure blade will buckle under its weight at maximum extension, and reach is the added 3 feet of average pro user arm length to reflect the distance between point of max standout and the front of the tape measure. Or, something like that – the graphic really says it all.

Milwaukee commented about the matter:

In the next few months, you might start to notice that our tape measures no longer claim “standout.” While there will be no physical changes to the tapes themselves, we are updating our tape measure messaging to now claim “reach,” similar to competitors in the category, so that users can have a more “apples to apples” shopping experience.

It makes perfect sense for Milwaukee to adapt the new marketing spec/terminology.

Seeing the rows and rows of Stanley and Dewalt tape measures with “Reach” advertising at the local Home Depot, and rows of Milwaukee tape measures with “Standout,” made Milwaukee’s switch-over an inevitability.

This isn’t really a big deal at all, for Milwaukee shifting from standout to reach, or at least it’s far less impactful than Stanley Black & Decker quietly changing over to the new 3-feet-higher metric just a few of months ago. It’s a number on a package, product page, or shelf at the store, and it’s a way to restore fair competition.

I am not a law professional, but it seemed to me that there were no grounds for a legal challenge (such as with an anti-competitive complaint), and so the only way to “even the playing field” would be to adopt “reach” as the de facto standard over “standout.” If the competition puts on stilts to make themselves appear 3 feet taller, you do the same.

Personally, I can never quite achieve max standout on any tape measure, but maybe that’s me. To avoid user confusion or disappointment, brands that advertise “reach” are going to have to do a good job of illustrating what that means, but I’m sure their graphic artists can come up with a clear diagram to add to product packaging or websites.

Some of you expressed indifference towards both standout and reach specs, saying that it doesn’t factor into your tape measure shopping or comparison efforts. But do you think that Stanley Black & Decker would have introduced the new metric, and Milwaukee adapting to that change, if it wouldn’t potentially impact sales?

Literally every single Stanley, FatMax, and Dewalt tape measure I found at Home Depot was sporting newly updated packaging. The same seemed to be true with Stanley and Craftsman tapes at Lowe’s. How much money did that cost Stanley Black & Decker?

With Milwaukee adopting the new unofficial standard, the only question now is whether other brands, such as Lufkin, will follow the trend.