Brand Shift With COVID – Opportunities and Challenges

Brand Shift With COVID – Opportunities and Challenges

As we continue to adjust our personal and professional lives, you have likely experienced changes in your shopping behaviors: where you go and what you buy.

As we continue to adjust our personal and professional lives, you have likely experienced changes in your shopping behaviors: where you go and what you buy. Specifically, think about your grocery experiences over the past three months.

Chances are you have tried a new brand of a product staple that you had not considered prior to COVID-19. Perhaps you tried this new brand because your ‘normal’ brand wasn’t available or maybe this new brand was cheaper. What did you think of those new brands you’ve tried? Would you buy the again?

Contractors in building products and home improvement are no different. Our research tracking weekly behaviors impacted by COVID-19 shows that more pros are going online and trying new suppliers. Many are doing so due to lack of available product, better pricing or better quality. For some manufacturers and suppliers this causes great concern; for others – a great opportunity.

Contractors Trying New Brands


We recently surveyed over 500 residential contractors and found that 62% have tried a new brand of building materials within the past 2 months. Typically, we see this percentage in the high teens. While this may vary by product category and contractor type, it’s certainly a sizeable increase brought on as a result of COVID-19.

This behavior is being driven by some classic product selection factors; the ones often at the top of the list: Quality, Price, Availability. However, Availability was mentioned by nearly half as the reason they tried a new brand. We saw a similar response during the last recession when in some cases the only product available at retail was the floor model, or there weren’t enough quantities available among consumables such as hardware.

Staying With New Brands

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If you believe your brand is not at risk because your customers have used your brand for years, think again. Of those 62% that have tried a new brand, over 70% said that new brand was better than their ‘normal’ brand. Just as you might have discovered with a new brand of grocery item, contractors are being introduced to new brands of building products that they realized are better than their old, standard brand.

How can this be, you might ask? Many manufacturers too often rely on the legacy of their brand OR the legacy of their

customers. ‘They love us’ or ‘we’ve been doing it longer’ are common expressions we hear from established brands that are susceptible to losing customers.

And once they realize the new brand is better than their ‘normal’ brand, they intend to continue using it. Of those trying new brands of building products in the past two months, nearly 90% stated they will continuing using that brand.

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What to Do?

Look at the glass half full: Brand shift is an opportunity for you to maintain or gain share.

  1. Understand your customers’ behaviors and what is driving their purchase decisions today. What was a priority yesterday may have changed. Your marketing, sales and product deliverables may need to be updated to reflect current behaviors.
  2. Understand your brand health, and that of your competitors, along with the frequency of brands used. This is going deeper than just brand awareness. You must understand your brand’s position in the market and how it aligns with what’s important to the pro customer. You will also be able to determine where in the buying process your brand falls — are you a one and done brand or do you have loyal users? Then you can match your brand against leading competitors to determine strengths you should leverage and weaknesses to address.

The Farnsworth Group works with manufacturers and suppliers to reveal opportunities through custom research specific to your customer, your brand and your product. Now, more than ever, you must capture details beyond your sales teams and beyond broad industry reports in order to provide specific direction that will help you gain your share of that 60%+ switching brands.

Contact us to discuss how our industry research expertise can help.