Study Uncovers Differences in How Female DI Yers Approach Home Improvement Projects

Study Uncovers Differences in How Female DIYers Approach Home Improvement Projects

Jun 04, 2024

In response to emerg­ing trends and evi­dence sug­gest­ing a gen­der divide in the DIY home improve­ment sec­tor, the Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute (HIRI) con­duct­ed a com­pre­hen­sive study to exam­ine these dis­par­i­ties. This research was ini­ti­at­ed under the hypoth­e­sis that under­ly­ing dis­crep­an­cies might reveal a dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tive for female par­tic­i­pants, par­tic­u­lar­ly in how they access and engage with DIY home improve­ment projects.

It seems like every­one is get­ting into DIY home improve­ment these days, some­times out of neces­si­ty, some­times for fun, and some­times for bud­getary con­cerns. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of con­tent cre­ators across dig­i­tal plat­forms means it’s fair­ly easy for an inter­est­ed DIY­er to find a tuto­r­i­al or demon­stra­tion for near­ly any type of home improve­ment project.

But that doesn’t mean every­one approach­es home improve­ment projects in the same way. From plan­ning to pur­chas­ing to car­ry­ing out the actu­al labor, we can see notice­able vari­a­tions among female and male DIY­ers, along with gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences among home­own­ers.

Our recent study, Do-It-Her­self: Ana­lyz­ing the Female DIY Expe­ri­ence,” released in May, takes a clos­er look at these dif­fer­ences, inves­ti­gat­ing the vari­a­tion in DIY expe­ri­ences among women across demo­graph­ics — and why those vari­a­tions should mat­ter to home improve­ment prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers and retailers. 

It’s impor­tant to explore women’s DIY pro­gres­sion and the unique chal­lenges they face, as well as iden­ti­fy­ing com­mon­ly uti­lized resources and plan­ning behav­iors among female DIY­ers in order to suc­cess­ful­ly cap­ture the atten­tion and demand of this mar­ket segment. 

Is There a Gender Divide in DIY Home Improvement?

Accord­ing to HIRI’s DIY Female Study, there is a notable gen­der divide in the DIY home improve­ment sec­tor, with dif­fer­ences in how female home­own­ers access and engage with DIY projects. 

Among the female demo­graph­ic, there also are sig­nif­i­cant influ­ences from age, income, edu­ca­tion, and race. For exam­ple, our research shows that the high­er the income lev­el, the high­er the per­cent­age of female home­own­ers with DIY expe­ri­ence. Addi­tion­al­ly, while neces­si­ty-based moti­va­tors are com­mon among DIY home­own­ers of all gen­ders, they are more pro­nounced among females. 

Cost sav­ings is anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant moti­va­tor for females, while moti­va­tors like Per­son­al inter­est” and Learn­ing desire” are com­par­a­tive­ly less preva­lent. In gen­er­al, cost sav­ings is a high dri­ver of DIY activ­i­ty across gen­ders, as home­own­ers are sen­si­tive to inflat­ed prices for prod­ucts and labor and, con­se­quent­ly, very inten­tion­al about how and where to spend on home improve­ment activ­i­ty.

HIRI’s 2023 Month­ly Home Improve­ment Track­er found that the major­i­ty of home­own­ers who com­plet­ed projects in 2023 chose to do it them­selves, rather than hir­ing a pro­fes­sion­al, because they believed it would be cheap­er for them to do the work and they felt they were able to do the work.

Along with bud­get con­straints, a few com­mon chal­lenges faced by women (and at a high­er rate than their male coun­ter­parts) include:

  • Time con­straints
  • Phys­i­cal demands and safe­ty concerns
  • Lack of confidence

Fur­ther, younger females are more like­ly to face chal­lenges relat­ed to bud­get, while old­er females are more like­ly to face chal­lenges relat­ed to phys­i­cal demands and safety.

Results of the study also revealed that female DIY­ers have a slow­er pro­gres­sion to advanced projects, on average. 

How­ev­er, accord­ing to our study, younger gen­er­a­tions have few­er gen­der dif­fer­ences and a short­er learn­ing curve between sim­ple and inter­me­di­ate project types.

Addi­tion­al research, from HIRI’s 2023 Project Deci­sion Study, shows that mar­i­tal sta­tus also comes into play, although less heav­i­ly than in the past. About 70% of home­own­ers who com­plet­ed home improve­ment projects in 2023 were either mar­ried or liv­ing with a partner.

House­hold heads take on the most pur­chase respon­si­bil­i­ty for DIY projects, espe­cial­ly the male head. In 2023, about 27% of project pur­chas­es were made sole­ly by female heads of house (HOH). Where we see this trend dif­fer is when it comes to paint­ing inte­ri­or rooms and plant­i­ng gardens/​landscaping.

Females are more influ­en­tial for projects that have more of an aes­thet­ic com­po­nent, such as inte­ri­or paint­ing; bath­room and kitchen remod­el­ing; front entrance improve­ments; and gardening/​landscaping. They are more like­ly than male HOH to both ini­ti­ate and par­tic­i­pate in design­ing these types of projects. 

Engaging Female DIYers in Home Improvement Activities

At the end of the day, there is a valu­able oppor­tu­ni­ty for orga­ni­za­tions with­in the home improve­ment sec­tor to enhance their engage­ment with female DIYers.

By tai­lor­ing mar­ket­ing strate­gies and edu­ca­tion­al con­tent to bet­ter meet the spe­cif­ic needs and pref­er­ences of women — by focus­ing on con­tent that address their unique chal­lenges — your com­pa­nies can fos­ter a more sup­port­ive DIY com­mu­ni­ty and increase brand loy­al­ty among female DIY­ers. This approach encour­ages greater par­tic­i­pa­tion and skill devel­op­ment among female DIY­ers, pro­mot­ing a vibrant DIY ecosystem.

How Female DIYers Research Home Improvement Projects

For instance, an impor­tant insight that can be gained from our study is that female DIY­ers heav­i­ly empha­size prepa­ra­tion, thor­ough research, and cau­tious skills assess­ment pri­or to engag­ing in DIY projects around the house. Male DIY­ers, on the oth­er hand, are more will­ing to take an explorato­ry approach to home improve­ment or engage in this activ­i­ty for leisure or enrich­ment. They’re also more apt to take on advanced projects.

Over­whelm­ing­ly, female DIY­ers tend to be more cau­tious and care­ful when under­tak­ing DIY activ­i­ty, which man­i­fests in a longer plan­ning and research stage. They are less like­ly than male DIY­ers to use for­mal resources for this pur­pose, rely­ing more heav­i­ly on peer learn­ing, online videos, and home improve­ment shows.

As high­light­ed in HIRI’s Gen­er­a­tions at Home report from 2023, there are also notable gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences in the DIY research jour­ney for build­ing sup­plies and prod­ucts. Mil­len­ni­als (those born between 1981 and 1996) use online sources for pre-pur­chase research at a high­er rate than old­er gen­er­a­tions; they also engage in a high­er rate of research. The Silent Gen (those born between 1928 and 1945) has the low­est degree of exten­sive” research, with 32% doing very lit­tle” research or none” at all. They also do the least online research.

Using HIRI Research to Inform Business Strategies

In order to cap­i­tal­ize on the oppor­tu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed by the female DIY sec­tor, home improve­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers have to devel­op the right mar­ket­ing strate­gies and tar­get­ed sup­port to address their spe­cif­ic challenges.

HIRI’s DIY Female Study, avail­able in full to HIRI mem­bers, is a must have resource for this pur­pose, with data that will inform you on fresh ways to engage the female DIY demo­graph­ic and cul­ti­vate their loy­al­ty. The study pro­vides ver­ba­tim sur­vey respons­es from DIY enthu­si­asts that offer prac­ti­cal insights into this group’s unique per­spec­tives on prepa­ra­tion and plan­ning; learn­ing and devel­op­ment; project man­age­ment; bud­get and resources man­age­ment; and how they approach seek­ing help and over­com­ing challenges.

Become a HIRI mem­ber to access the full report and gain valu­able insights into the female DIY mar­ket. HIRI mem­bers also have access to a wide vari­ety of prod­uct- and project-lev­el insights based on both pro­fes­sion­al and DIY shop­ping and pur­chase behav­iors, with mar­ket-lev­el analy­sis and chan­nel-focused report­ing to guide strate­gic decision-making.

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