Rebecca Cullen
Rebecca provides analysis across a variety of categories including household and personal care, and currently serves as the household care analyst, with a unique focus on air care. She utilizes research to develop insightful analysis while also applying relevant industry trends.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred an uptick in adults undertaking home projects, from redecorating to organizing to gardening, as shelter in place removed a key barrier for category participation – time. Whether it be Americans taking advantage of forced downtime to tackle deferred projects or merely trying to occupy their time and change up their scenery, foot traffic and sales, both online and offline, at hardware and home improvement retailers trended upward starting in March 2020 thanks to what some have dubbed “pandecorating.”

Here, we take a look at what brands need to focus on to keep the momentum going:

Maintain enthusiasm through empowerment

While the pandemic may have boosted home improvement projects, brands will now need to focus on maintaining the momentum, especially as the economy moves through a long recovery. Smaller projects and highlighting the emotional satisfaction gained from completing projects, as well as providing tools and services that guide consumers throughout the project experience could address key barriers to participation: lack of time and confidence.

Don’t rule out women

DIY consumers are plentiful: four out of five adults have undertaken a project or repair themselves in the past three years, compared to two-thirds who hired a professional to do the work instead. DIY home improvement projects and shopping tend to be male-dominated, but women are slowly growing their involvement. Women are more likely to take on projects to enhance the look and feel of the home, such as décor updates, while men undertake more functional maintenance projects.

New points to connect

The path to purchase for DIY home improvement projects can be complicated and lengthy, requiring at least some research on the shopper’s part before starting a project and executing a purchase. The in-person experience will continue to play an important role in the discovery and planning process; however, the importance of a seamless online shopping experience is only increasing as more consumers move online, with one-third of DIYers say they are shopping online for home projects more often due to COVID-19. This means that retailers and brands have many chances to connect with consumers along this journey, ultimately aimed at pushing them further along, ending in a purchase.

What we think

The home has always been a special place for consumers, but 2020 put that into focus as the pandemic completely altered how consumers use their homes. While the surge in DIY projects is unlikely to continue long term, brands have an opportunity to use the current momentum and the new appreciation Americans have for their spaces to make headway on category challenges.