Bi-annually The Farnsworth Group conducts a public study on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute to provide broad insights of the consideration, usage and attitudes that homeowners and landscapers have towards Battery and Gas-powered outdoor power equipment. The results of this bi-annual study also illustrate how preference, perceptions, and usage have changed over time.
For the 2022 edition of the Gas vs. Battery OPE Usage and Perceptions Report, the primary research team at The Farnsworth Group surveyed hundreds homeowners and landscapers of varying demographics and firmographics, all of whom are recent buyers of outdoor power equipment.
Here are 9 key findings from the latest release:
Homeowner Usage and Perceptions of Gas vs. Battery OPE
In line with the cooling DIY market, homeowner purchases of OPE peaked in 2020 and 2021 and homeowners who plan to make an outdoor power equipment purchase in the next 6-12 months have decreased as expendable incomes have decreased throughout 2022. This also reflects the cooling home buying market. One of the biggest catalysts for homeowner OPE purchases is buying a home. For those homeowners who do plan to purchase OPE, top share of product purchase intent goes to lawn edgers, walk-behind mowers, blowers, and chainsaws.
Digging into which kind of OPE homeowners have purchased in the last 12 months, the 2022 report shows a long-term increase among homeowner purchase of Battery-powered OPE and a decrease among homeowner purchases of Gas-powered OPE.
While this trend holds, Gas-powered OPE has a higher share of total purchases in some categories: mowers, chainsaws. However, since we began this research in 2016, the share leader for edgers, blowers has shifted from gas to battery.
Among homeowners, consideration of Battery-powered OPE has risen steadily over the years, despite on-going concern over run-time, power/performance, and high price remains. In 2022, 80% of Boomers selected that "Batteries are not finishing the job," compared to 66% of Gen Y and 73% of Gen X respondents when asked, "What are the top 5 drawbacks to Battery-powered outdoor power equipment." There's also something to be said about the 2022 study findings that 1 in 3 homeowners simply prefer Gas-powered or Corded OPE options over Battery-powered options.
Battery-powered OPE is perceived by homeowners as better than Gas-powered OPE on matters of reliability (it starts up every time) and ease of use, which are critical factors in OPE product selection. On the other side of the matter, Gas-powered OPE is perceived by homeowners as better on values of durability, performance, and price. The report also identified that homeowners with yards that are 1/2 acre or larger rate all product attributes higher value for Gas-powered OPE than for Battery-powered OPE.
Landscaper Usage and Perceptions of Gas vs. Battery OPE
In 2022, the share of landscapers who purchased Battery-powered OPE in the past year reached 35%, compared to 3% just 6 years ago in 2016. Further, the smaller the landscaping firm (<$750k), the larger the share of Gas-powered OPE, with survey results showing 71% purchasing Gas-powered OPE and 29% purchasing Battery-powered OPE.
The larger the firm (>$750k), the larger the share of Battery-powered OPE, with survey results showing 41% purchasing Battery-powered OPE and 59% purchasing Gas-powered OPE. It's not just the number of landscapers purchasing Battery-powered OPE that is increasing.
The volume of Battery equipment being purchased is also increasing, according to the survey results. Fleets are consistently shifting to more Battery OPE among Landscapers. The average in 2022 is 40% of landscapers owning Battery-powered OPE, up from 28% in 2018.
Handheld forms of outdoor power equipment are more widely adopted among customers. The most common types of Battery-powered OPE owned by landscapers are
- Blowers (75% own)
- Hedge Trimmers (63% own)
- Lawn Edgers (62% own)
- Chainsaws (48% own)
Nevertheless, 15% of landscapers surveyed noted that none of their equipment is Battery-powered. The top unaided reasons for not having any Battery-powered OPE in 2022 were:
- Does not last as long (27%)
- Must wait to recharge (27%)
- Not suitable for the jobs we do (20%)
- Price (13%)
Attributes related to equipment run time and power remain critical perception challenges for adoption by landscapers. Run time, power, and equipment lifespan perceptions are three big reasons why mowers, tractors, and chippers do not have the penetration of handhelds.
When it comes to marketing messaging, one attribute jumped out among landscapers the most as a key benefit to purchasing Battery-powered OPE: No oil to change.
The number of landscapers choosing this option increased to 52%, up from 34% in 2018. Another key finding to incorporate into your product messaging strategy is that pointing out the equipment as "environmentally-friendly" is not attributed as a benefit by as many landscapers in 2022 (42%) compared to in 2018 (50%).
Overall, the findings from the 2022 Usage & Attitude study point towards a reality that landscapers still believe that Gas-powered OPE is superior to Battery-powered OPE. This indicates that Battery-powered product adoption will continue to occur more slowly among landscapers than among homeowners. Even still, 78% of Pros’ companies responded they are likely to purchase battery-powered outdoor power equipment in the next 5 years.
Robotic/Autonomous Mowers Are Gaining Exposure
More homeowners and landscapers are gaining exposure to Robotic Mowers with each passing year. Younger homeowners and those with larger yards as well as larger landscapers are more likely to have exposure. Use of robotic mowers is higher among landscapers, with 13% having used a robotic mower in 2022 compared to 4% in 2018. 1 in 2 homeowners and 2 in 3 landscapers are aware of robotic mowers in 2022. Adoption among homeowners is low, with 4% having used a robotic mower in 2022 compared to 2% in 2018.
When asked the open-ended question, "What brands of robotic mowers are you aware of?" landscapers' primary brands mentioned were Husqvarna, John Deere, Craftsman, Worx, and Black+Decker while homeowners' primary brands mentioned were Husqvarna, Worx, Ryobi, Gardena, Toro, and Robomow.
Download the full public study to review changes in key trends to inform your marketing messaging and product development efforts.
Key Takeaways to Inform Your 2023 and 2024 Go-to-Market Strategies
Declining housing starts and slowed home sales as we come to the end of 2022 points towards fewer OPE customers for 2023. When refining your marketing messaging, think more along the lines of “upgrades” for current owners rather than capturing share of market among new buyers.
Have a strong pricing and merchandising strategy to overcome increasing levels of price sensitivity among homeowners and landscapers alike. Sales in 2020 and 2021 were easy, but heading into 2023 the building products industry is back to competing for share.
Homeowners continue to adopt Battery-powered OPE at higher rates than Pros, but both customer types are increasing share of Battery-powered OPE and state increased intentions of doing so over the next 5 years.
Battery-powered OPE brands have several key challenges to address with their products to win in the market. Those are the:
- Perceived lack of durability
- Short run time
- Questionable power
- Expense and perceived shorter lifespan
That's the bad news. Here's the good news. There are an abundance of benefits perceived by landscapers and homeowners that OPE brands can lean into, including:
- Ease of use
- No fuel or oil costs
- Perceived environmentally friendly
And of utmost importance heading into 2023 is to know your audience! Target those segments most likely to buy, which are younger, small yard homeowners and younger landscapers at larger firms. Understand what matters to them and deliver on those attribute values.
For a deep dive into your customer segments and to peel back the onion a bit more on why they are making the purchase decisions they are making and holding on purchases they forgo, reach out to our lawn and ranch industry experts at The Farnsworth Group.