As we’ve shown with our Home Improvement COVID Tracker, we know DIY activity has seen tremendous growth throughout the pandemic. We also know that home improvement retails sales have seen equally impressive growth up nearly 12% YOY through September. Some of the most common projects undertaken by DIYers this year have been lawn & garden projects. Those projects often involve outdoor power equipment.
The Farnsworth Group recently completed a public industry study among over 600 DIYers that have recently purchased OPE or plan to purchase. This study was the third in a series of studies tracking behaviors and perceptions of battery powered OPE compared to more traditional, gas power products. Below are some highlights of what we learned.
Handheld OPE Purchases Continue to Grow
From 2016 to 2020 we’ve seen steady increases in the percentage of DIYers buying smaller format OPE products like Hedge Trimmers, Chainsaw, and Pressure Washers. This is being driven by Gen Y, which aligns with historical DIY activity where the younger the DIYer, the more likely they are to purchase and complete various DIY projects.
The Battery Movement Continues
Another trend we saw continue with this year’s research is the increase of Battery OPE being purchased at the cost of Gas. This is most prominent with Trimmers and Walk Behind Mowers. Even those DIYers that are planning to purchase OPE products are increasingly planning to purchase Battery instead of Gas.
Battery Concerns Remain
Historically, some of the biggest hurdles for Battery OPE adoption among DIYers has been battery run-time, power and price. While those concerns still remain that have reduced over the years. There is less concern with Gen Y compared to Boomers. While some concerns are lessoning, they are still prevalent and require manufacturers and suppliers to better understand the consumer market to know who, how and when to communicate various product messages. These concerns also keep the door open to Gas powered OPE who maintain a strong perception of power, run-time and durability.
Gas Still Perceived as Better than Battery
There are several perceived benefits of Battery OPE vs Gas on both an unaided and aided basis. While most of these benefits have remained constant, a few are gaining popularity such as ease of use and reduced noise levels. Female and Light DIYers are also citing more benefits being cordless and environmentally friendly. We continue to see different consumer segments react more strongly to various benefits. However, when it comes to a direct comparison, Gas often rates higher than Battery when DIYers are asked which delivers across various factors.
The OPE Battle Rages On
By no means is Gas on its last leg, and it’s still viewed as superior in many areas, but when it comes to DIY outdoor power equipment, battery continues to gain share. Proof can be seen in brand and supplier activities: a gas OPE manufacturer files for bankruptcy while a battery manufacturer becomes a leading retail brand. The consumer’s awareness, perceptions and needs are evolving as Battery OPE improves product performance while delivering effective marketing communications. Battery perceptions and behaviors are also more favorable among younger DIYers, so as they continue to drive home improvement purchases the market is expected to move in lock step. The Batter v Gas OPE war is far from over, but when it comes to DIYers, battery is winning small battles.
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