We speak with 30 to 40 building material manufacturers, lumber dealers and home improvement retailers every month.  So what are those “hot” research topics that we hear about?

As we all know staff and budgets have been reduced among many building material manufacturers, dealers and retailers in recent years due to the housing crash.  Naturally one of the budgets to get cut was marketing and research.  Now that housing starts are on the upswing and remodeling remains strong, many companies are returning to those marketing and research efforts critical to capturing share and penetrating end-user segments.

1)   Market Size and Channel Distribution

Determining the size a market for a particular product and/or end-user segment provides an accurate channel distribution map with associated dollar value as it flows through channels to the purchasers.  Due to the cost and time required for accurate market sizing, many firms have not conducted this research for several years.  Well the landscape has changed and manufacturers are working hard to understand today’s reality.  Think of it as the half time of a game where your team is down after the first half.  Now is the time to look at the stats and make adjustments because what you might have been doing before no longer applies for a successful game.

2)   Brand Share

Like marketing sizing, brand share is a current picture of the landscape to understand who has what, and what you can gain.  Brand share can be more dynamic and therefore studied more frequently to assess a company’s position. Manufacturers that have not conducted brand share research in recent years are often surprised with the changes that have occurred.  Pricing and availability have driven many of these brand shifts.

3)   “White Space”

Manufacturers are again putting effort towards exploring unmet needs among DIYers and Professionals.  For years it has been a “just hold on” mentality with little or no investment on new products or categories.  Recently many companies are conducting quantitative and qualitative research to help indentify what consumers want or are missing within an existing product offering or category.  Whether it’s ethnography or in-depth interviews, this research is giving manufacturers and our industry insights to new and innovative products that are a strong indicator for sustained industry growth.