Are millennials driving the DIY market?

Are millennials driving the DIY market?
The DIY market looks set to continue to be challenging with growth in consumer spending on a bit of a go-slow. However, while growth may be stagnant, spending remains largely positive with 75% of consumers purchasing DIY products in the last year. So, what exactly is driving the market? We look at consumer research giant Mintel’s report, DIY Retailing, to determine what factors are impacting UK DIY retailers.

Generation rent

The last 10 to 15 years has seen a significant societal change in the housing market, with a higher proportion of the population now living in rented accommodation than owning their own property. This mostly affects those in the 25-34 age group, who are twice as likely to live in private rented property as they were 12 years ago, but the shift is occurring across all generations. This has had, and will likely continue to have, a significant impact on the DIY market as renters are less likely to be able to undertake DIY projects in their rented properties, or are less likely to want to as they will never see the benefits of increasing the property’s value. Mintel found that 80% of homeowners had purchased DIY or home improvement products last year, compared to 66% of renters – a trend that is set to continue.

This shift in the housing market has also resulted in a change in the type of retailers that consumers purchase DIY and home improvement products from. While homeowners continue to purchase from specialists like B&Q, non-specialists such as Amazon and discounters such as Poundland and B&M Bargains are picking up a significant share of the market, particularly from consumers in rented accommodation. Driven by low prices, over half of consumers have visited non-specialist retailers to purchase DIY and home improvement products. It seems that these retailers are capitalising on the reduced need amongst generation rent for significant DIY products and their tendency to improve their homes with soft furnishings and furniture.

Consumer spending

It appears that in these times of economic uncertainty, home improvement is relatively low on the consumer’s priorities. Last year saw a 5% decrease in the number of consumers admitting that they intend to spend money on their homes in the next three months. And while consumers are showing less interest in DIY, the purchasing behaviour among those still spending on home improvements appears to be changing as well. The online DIY market is becoming an increasingly significant challenger to the likes of B&Q and Homebase, with non-specialists now significantly more popular for online purchases. Over a third of consumers shop online from non-specialist retailers, compared to just 18% from specialists, with consumers listing competitive prices and the convenience of home delivery (which is often thrown in for free) for the change in their purchasing behaviour. With online purchases ever increasing, it seems that specialist retailers may need to give their online strategy a bit of a shake-up.

Customer satisfaction

Recent years have seen a lack of brand loyalty with many consumers using the internet to find DIY products at the best price. However, this is not simply down to consumers shopping around online; many consumers are reporting a lack of satisfaction with customer service in store.  Product quality is generally good, but consumers are less impressed with staff knowledge. Consumers appreciate some guidance when embarking on DIY projects so while they may shop around for the best prices, the attitude among consumers that ‘you get what you pay for’ still prevails. Many are willing to pay the higher prices of specialist stores if it comes with good customer service from knowledgeable staff. It looks like it’s time for DIY retailers to brush up on their knowledge!

DIY versus Home Improvement

While Mintel’s research offers some fascinating insights into the DIY market, it is also important to have a real-world view. Given our bread and butter is the garden, DIY and home improvement arena and we live and breathe DIY, we thought we’d share our views.

We heard last week that Totally Tools, the trade show for retailers and suppliers of DIY products, has been cancelled. This, coupled with relatively low growth in consumer spending in the DIY market, is a sign of the times. The industry appears to be changing, with more and more retailers moving away from DIY and instead talking about their products under the umbrella of ‘home improvement’. Leading retailers including Bunnings, Wickes and B&Q are now all about home improvements, in an attempt to target the mass market.

But there is still life in DIY, it is just being referred to in many different contexts. Generation DIY, who we have discussed in a previous post, or The Maker Movement as it is called in the US, is shaking up the industry and what it means to Do It Yourself. As shown in the new Channel 4 programme ‘Craft It Yourself’, DIY is now ‘CIY’ as the under 40s are leading a trend towards crafting, upcycling and a return to doing things by hand. With more time and less spare cash in their hands, these 16-34-year-olds are saving money by figuring out how to achieve the same results of professionals themselves. But it is not just the traditional DIY projects that this generation is taking on. From home brewing and sugar craft to making their own cupboards, anything you can have a go at yourself is the new DIY.

With Autumn Fair just around the corner, we’ll be eagerly on the lookout for the trends on the craft side of the market and we’ll be scoping out which brands are moving to home improvement or sticking with DIY.