The Farnsworth Group asked DIYers from across the United States what has shifted in how they research, find, select and purchase building materials products.
Here’s a look at what key segments of DIYers had to share about their experiences embarking on home improvement projects and purchasing building products.
The results from the full study of DIYers is included in the 2023 Building Products Customer Guide along with results from builders, contractors, and architects.
DIY Market Size in the US
The DIY market represents nearly 100 million households (across both renters and homeowners). In 2022, the DIY market is worth just under 6 billion dollars according to market analysis conducted by IHS Markit on behalf of the Home Improvement Research Institute.
The Farnsworth Group anticipates more opportunity among DIYers performing repair, maintenance and remodel projects in 2023 due to current market forces.
Understanding Your Customers
There are distinct differences in project research and product purchase behaviors among the three primary generations of home improvement customers – Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.
Understanding Baby Boomers That DIY
“Baby Boomers” classifies anyone born from 1946 to 1964.
Boomers tend to conduct less research before purchasing a product, likely because they are using brands and products more consistently from years of prior experience. When they do conduct research before making a purchase, over half are researching primarily on price.
This also means that you have less chances to get your brand in front of Boomers, so the messaging needs to be direct and specifically resonate to a Boomer's DIYing needs in their stage of life.
70% of Boomers are driven to conduct in-store product research in order to touch, see, and feel the products, compared to only about 1 in 2 of both Millennial and Gen X customers.
While they are the least concerned with material prices, and least likely to delay a project due to pricing, of these buyer segments, Baby Boomers still look to get more bang for their buck when selecting building products.
In general, the purchase drivers of Boomers tend to prioritize sticking with what they know, rather than trying something new, whereas Gen X and Millennial buyers, who are increasingly price sensitive, are more inclined to shop around for their perception of the best value.
Remember, that Boomers are not the largest target market in the DIY home improvement space, Millennials are.
Understanding Gen X that DIY
“Generation X”, or “Gen X”, classifies anyone born from 1965 to 1980.
To Gen X customers, product quality and the idea of getting a good deal are primary purchase drivers. 41% of Gen X customers switched to a new brand that they assessed as better quality.
Wanting to get a good deal is different than choosing the cheapest option, however. Among Gen X customers, only 29% switched to a brand with a cheaper retail price, even though 42% switched when the new brand was on sale.
43% of Gen Xers are driven into a store looking for sales, promotions, and other specials and 51% are researching products in-store to compare prices.
In general, Gen X prospects will conduct product and brand research on two social media platforms, while Millennials research on three platforms, and Boomers research on only one.
If you can only focus on one social media platform in 2023, make it YouTube, because all three generations use this tool to conduct product research. YouTube also has high adoption among male and female DIYers, in contrast to larger variances of adoption on other social media platforms.
Understanding Millennials that DIY
“Millennials” classifies anyone born from 1981 to 1996.
The 2023 Building Products Customer study uncovered that 40% of Millennials experienced problems with frequent or very frequent material availability issues, more than did Boomers (9%) or Gen X buyers (27%).
Even still, only 7% of these Millennials did not make a purchase if they had material availability issues compared to an 11% average across buyer segments. Our findings consistently show that product, channel, and brand switching is common among Millennial DIYers.
Further, 1 in 3 Millennials purchased a new brand based on a recommendation from someone influential, while only 1 in 5 Boomers reported the same.
Millennials find new brands on supplier and brand websites, social media, and online ads, while baby boomers are more likely to find a new brand in-store.
In addition to conducting extensive online research, more than 1 in 3 Millennials move their research in-store with a desire for employees to be knowledgeable about product and project recommendations, because they are less confident in their knowledge and skills.
For this reason, Millennials turn heavily to digital "How To" types of content and videos through their entire buyer's journey: choosing, purchasing, installing, and upkeep.
Millennials are driven to conduct product research in-store more than the other buyer segments, in order to better understand product uses – 24% of Millennials compared to only 17% of Gen X and 9% of Boomers.
Request access to the entire report covering customer attitudes and behaviors among DIYers as well as architects, engineers, builders, contractors, specialty trades, and designers.
Understanding Male versus Female DIYers
More female DIYers are looking for a good deal when they go online to research or shop for products. 2 in 3 female DIYers, compared to 1 in 2 male DIYers are drawn online to check prices and price shop. Further, 1 in 2 females went online looking for sales, promotions and specials, compared to 1 in 3 male DIYer.
Female DIYers are also more interested in product reviews and other user generated forms of content; 61% of females versus 45% of male DIYers went online for product review information.
But, don’t assume male DIYers aren’t converting only. In fact, 23% male DIYers use social media to purchase and research products online compared to 16% of female DIYers.
Home improvement store websites, Google or other search engines, and Amazon are still the primary online tools for product shopping among both male and female DIYers.
When it comes to price sensitivity, there are not currently any statistically significant differences between male and female DIYers. Both genders are also similarly inclined to switch brands and channels to suit their purchase preferences.
Looking Ahead: Implications for 2023 Building Product Sales
With home equity expected to drop by 10-20% through 2023, DIY home values will still be higher than pre-pandemic levels, but a drop in value along with higher borrowing rates will cause DIYers to seek lower cost home improvement products.
Lowe's has a flat projection for retail sales in 2023 and Home Depot’s growth projection is back to pre-pandemic levels, with a 3% growth projection for retail sales in 2023.
Data compiled by our team at The Farnsworth Group, as well as data published to members by the Home Improvement Research Institute takes a similarly positive stance with 2-4% growth projection in 2023.
Intent to engage in a home remodeling project remains strong, with 63% of homeowners reporting in the DIY/DIFM Home Improvement Tracker Report intent to start a remodeling project in the next few weeks.
80% of respondents started a DIY repair, replacement, or remodeling project during November and December, down slightly from months prior, corroborating a moderate cool down in the home improvement sector.
Homeowners’ desire to continue investing into their homes is being weighed against rising financial pressures. In November of 2022, 67% had postponed a home remodeling project in the past month due to budget/financial priorities, and 56% reported that reason in December 2022. And for the past several months, half of homeowners have postponed a home improvement project because of material prices.
The results from the full study of DIYers building product purchase preferences and research behaviors is included in the 2023 Building Products Customer Guide along with results from builders, contractors, and architects.