This blog was co-authored by Robby Schoenhoft and Tom Quish.
Our homes have transformed into multi-purpose spaces over the last year: Living rooms have become offices; our garage is now a workshop; and the classroom extends from the basement to the attic.
And as evidenced by data collected during the pandemic, many consumers are taking on renovations themselves, along with other home improvement projects that may have been placed on hold before the home became the center of everything. In the first two quarters of 2020, sales at Lowe’s rose 35.1 percent over the same time last year; Home Depot witnessed a similar phenomenon when its sales increased 25% in the fourth quarter of 2020. The types of projects vary, but according to the National Association of Realtors, roughly one third of those surveyed took on one or more of the following: bathroom repair, interior house painting and home décor updates.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) consumers represent a promising demographic for the building materials industry: According to ResearchDive, the global DIY market is expected to reach $780 trillion by 2027.
Attracting these consumers, though, is not a simple proposition. For some companies within the industry, we have noticed a disconnect between how DIY shoppers prefer to make purchases versus what the current, primarily B2B business model with limited direct-to-customer experience can offer. Historic ways of doing business are changing: Contractors, if involved at all, are securing less in-person sales calls dues to the pandemic, and consumers are expecting more information about the products that are coming into their homes. In addition, companies across industries are going through an “Amazon-ification” process and taking on their own e-commerce and retail logistics, which is fueling customers to expect the same just about everywhere.
Appealing to DIY customers in the building materials space requires an understanding of your customers’ DIY maturity and ambitions, a well of insights into the macro changes in the retail and digital landscape for a concrete strategy to build value—both direct and more effectively through B2B, where end-customers are asking for your products by name. This is because DIY no longer is simply hacking away at a project at home on a Saturday morning: It’s informed, it’s inspired by HGTV, it’s enabled by YouTube videos and those garage workshops. These consumers aren’t just price shopping, they’re savvy, informed and have been primed to how the process might unfold.
Here’s more on how to establish yourself in the DIY space:
Empower Channel Partners
The DIY consumer is making all the purchases themselves, and as a result they’re individually interacting with all of your partners. Say an unreported delay in shipping forces a customer to burn a few more PTO days from their job to complete the project. While this may seem like a disparate encounter not directly tied to your brand, a single bad service experience can ripple throughout the project, negatively influencing brand sentiment.
Customer experience is of paramount importance across all steps of the process, and the onus is not just on the channel partner. While it’s not your sole responsibility to ensure a seamless end-to-end experience, it’s in your interest to play an active role. Evaluate your entire eco-system—suppliers, distributors, specifiers and installers—to find the weak spots and take a rapid, SWAT team-style approach to fixing. By reducing friction and risk where you have control, you reduce the possibility of negative customer experiences that could be attributed to your brand.
Progress Towards Personalization
The first step is to collect actionable data on your target end customer. This is where Rightpoint proves essential. We understand what constitutes the right kind of data and how to harness the information to create a competitive brand advantage. We then distill our findings into a roadmap to ensure that your DIY customers are being led through the purchasing process in a way that encourages confident decision making and repeat business. The customer should understand your business and products and feel confident you will meet their needs. Informative content and high utility digital experiences built on these insights positions your brand closer to top-of-mind with your end customer.
This information has immense incremental value when shared with your channel partners, especially retail employees who could be promoting your brand to DIY-ers. Rather than simply handing off a fact sheet, achieve a competitive advantage by playing an active role in educating your wholesale and retail partners on how to position your product value to that end consumer. For example, you might share insights on how certain products might align to a customer’s DIY maturity, or how to creatively use some of your products to solve less obvious problems emerging in the DIY market. The goal here is for your channel partners to be equipped to offer relevant, personalized recommendations that put your brand at the center of the customer’s project.
Stock the Consumer’s Toolkit
Our work with a variety of brands across the Building Materials space showcases examples of how empowering the consumer with tools leads better experiences and increased sales. This includes developing mobile optimized web experiences that come with functions for estimating measurements, comparing products, recognizing images, calculating cost and designing a space using augmented reality tools that enable contractors and end-consumers to see what the products will look like once installed.
This technology for these clients allowed for customer information to sync across channel partners. Customers could feel confident that the proper measurements were available to everyone, and partners were able to effectively troubleshoot any issues threatening to derail the entire process. Digital tools and content like this are excellent ways for B2B brands to establish a B2C relationship that builds brand equity and awareness. The result: Your product is the confident choice for the DIY-er’s (or contractor’s!) installation.
Be Part of the DIY Conversation
We live in an age where YouTube tutorials are available for just about anything—and they are playing a pivotal role in DIY. Venveo’s “DIY Consumer Marketing Trend Report” found that 78 percent of DIYers begin their research online, with 90 percent of them citing YouTube specifically. The report also discovered that 63 percent of DIY consumers don’t hold any brand loyalty.
The discovery phase of the DIY journey is an important opportunity to capture consumer’s attention, and this is where content plays a pivotal role. Once again, don’t rely on channel partners—as the expert on your products, you are the most qualified to guide customers through the process and capture sales at each point.
While advertising on these channels can certainly drive brand awareness, a dedicated content strategy that folds your brand directly into the DIY conversation has significantly more potential. By guiding DIYers through project vision and planning, you’ll position your brand and products to be fully embedded in the outcome your customers envision.
DIYers are eager to get started on their project, so your content needs to be actionable, relevant, simple to follow and lead to completed projects. Inform them of the end-to-end process, step-by-step, and make mention of other relevant products the DIY consumer can purchase. This type of content also serves to educate your channel partners on where they show up in the process so they can prep customer service accordingly.
Rightpoint excels at deepening social strategy through the use of data. An informed analysis of your customers helps calibrate which sorts of content will most resonate with them and ultimately drive brand loyalty and sales This affords you full visibility when putting together an editorial calendar accordingly to ensure you are constantly serving up relevant, actionable content to ultimately drive great brand experiences and word-of-mouth referrals.
Mix and Match Through an Audience Strategy
While the topics themselves can be gleaned from consumer research, your audience may vary in terms of experience with DIY. Grab the attention of both novices and veterans by establishing an audience strategy and then aligning content to each target audience segment. Videos hosted by known figures might appeal to a new DIY customer looking for a familiar face, while curated, high quality user-generated content can inspire conversation between experts ready to finally complete a long-standing project. However, it’s important to remain open to other DIY mindsets and purchase mentalities, which is why continuously leveraging data and research to monitor trends is critical for accurate audience and content strategies.
The content has to be relatable as well. Recognize the typical budgets of your audience and position content to resonate with that buyer. For example, if your price point doesn’t typically align with a $90K kitchen re-model, it’s more effective to demonstrate the product within the context it typically applies than position within an aspiration that’s not your market. When possible, regionalizing content is also an excellent strategy… that NYC kitchen is much different than one in the Chicago suburbs.
Don’t forget to implement any social tactics that increase shareability. Promote your content with hashtag campaigns and giveaway opportunities—such as the chance to subsidize a home renovation. To further ensure visibility through search, ensure that the appropriate Google AdWords and SEO keywords are sprinkled throughout the content, amplifying paid and organic search.
Start Increasing Your DIY Business with Rightpoint
A solid baseline of research and analytic insights helps calibrate where you are and anticipate where customers are headed, which is why Rightpoint shines when helping brands develop direct customer relationships. Our Rightpoint Way methodology brings a cross-discipline approach of strategy, design and technology to ensure we’re always on the cutting-edge of consumer expectations and can deliver personalized, memorable experiences to your customers at every step of their purchasing journey.
Get in touch with Rightpoint to begin laying the foundation for your DIY customer experiences.