How do customers shopping for hardware behave, and what kind of projects do they undertake? What are their top product preferences? And, how does the state of the economy affect the hardware industry?
By diving deep into home improvement research, professionals in the hardware industry can learn more about the effectiveness of their current marketing strategies, make better decisions about how to market and sell their products, and ultimately bring increased sales and revenue to their organization.
From the rise of smart technology to the increasing demand for durable lock and gate hardware products, we will explore the key drivers behind the hardware market’s growth and predict how it will shape up in the years to come.
The hardware industry has seen substantial growth in recent years, both globally and within the United States.
Consider these figures:
In 2022 alone, the United States consumer hardware market grew 7.1% to a total of $19.6 billion.
Also in 2022, the United States professional hardware market grew 7.3% to a total of $2.1 billion.
Among consumers, the hardware market is predicted to continue this momentum through 2023, peaking at $20.6 billion for the consumer market before declining by 2.5% in 2024 and recovering through 2027.
For the professional market, 2023 and 2024 continue to look like strong years for segment growth, with the category reaching $2.6 billion in value despite slower growth through 2027.
This presents a positive outlook for hardware manufacturers and retailers as the demand for these products continues. Hardware manufacturers and retailers should be prepared to compete for shares of the market and capitalize on the growth opportunities that do still exist by staying on top of burgeoning trends.
Data collected by our researchers through the Home Improvement Research Institute revealed that most of the products in the hardware category are purchased for a planned repair/replace reason (39%) or a planned add (24%), while 12% of purchases are part of a larger remodeling project. Most installations are made by homeowners, but pros still make up about a quarter of installations.
When it comes to installation, consumers report valuing convenience (37%) and speed (28%) over cost (17%).
In light of this, manufacturers and retailers may want to focus on promoting individual products for specific needs rather than entire home renovation projects.
Customer behavior varies, and manufacturers and retailers need to understand their customers’ attitudes at any given time. HIRI research found that in 2022, top customer priorities were:
Because customers seem to value products that are long-lasting, marketing messaging should focus on a product’s ability to save homeowners from routine maintenance. Interestingly, 68% of survey respondents also said that they would be willing to pay more for products made in the USA, so if this is applicable to your products, include it in your marketing.
I will make improvements to my home to be able to stay in my house as I age (75%).
I like to get as much information as possible about a new home improvement product before I buy it (70%).
I prefer one-stop shopping for my home improvement needs rather than going to several different stores (68%).
I buy home products that help me maintain a healthy home (68%).
Cater to aging homeowners.
Provide excellent customer service.
Offer a range of products.
HIRI research found that among purchasers of hardware products, in-store shopping remains the dominant method (76%), followed by online (20%). Only 4% of purchases were made via mobile app.
However, there are notable differences in channel preferences depending on the product category. For example:
Decorative hardware has a higher incidence of online purchases (29%) compared to in store (64%).
Gate hardware purchasers also include a significant group of warehouse membership shoppers (7%), who purchase online and in person.
Generally speaking, home centers are the go-to supplier for hardware purchases, with 68% purchasing through this channel.
Purchase incidence of hardware products grew 5% from 2017 to 2021. Read on to discover customer preferences by hardware category.
Most popular products:
Kick plate: 58.2%
Door knocker: 35.0%
House number: 31.5%
Mail slot: 11.4%
Most customers (82.5%) buy decorative door hardware from home centers, with 68.2% preferring in-person purchases and 14.3% making online purchases.
For traditional fasteners such as nails, anchors and screws, 82.3% of customers prefer product packaging in separate boxes or containers, while 17.7% prefer to purchase kits. Carrying inventory similar to these numbers to meet the preferences of all shoppers may be a good rule for your business.
Most popular fastener application:
Concrete, brick and block: 9.2%
Customers prefer to shop in person, with 80.4% of customers preferring home centers, 8.5% hardware stores and 4.4% department/discount stores.
Gate hardware purchases increased by 280% from 2017 to 2021, reaching 4.8%. This increase may be due to the trend in outdoor living and the growing importance of fenced-in backyards.
Most popular products:
Gate hardware kits: 60.2%
Gate hinges: 39.3%
Gate latches: 31.0%
Gate handles: 25.5%
Gate drop rods: 15.3%
Although most gate hardware purchases occur at home centers, 7.2% of customers prefer warehouse memberships, both online and in person.
For doorknob and lock sets, customers prefer classic styles with a standard keyed exterior.
Most popular styles:
Most popular exterior features:
Standard keyed: 78.8%
Biometric (fingerprint) features: 3.3%.
Keyless/digital with remote: 1.7%
Although a majority of customers still prefer the traditional keyed lock, there is a growing interest in keyless and smart-lock features, as well as biometric options. Hardware manufacturers and retailers should take note of this trend and consider the rising popularity of connected features to meet changing consumer demands.
The future performance of the home improvement hardware market is difficult to predict, as it will be influenced by many factors, including economic conditions, consumer behavior and technological advancements. However, recent research has pointed to a rise in demand in the smart-apartment market, which could expedite the development of connected technology such as smart locks and touch-less hardware.
Think back to 2020: COVID-19 prompted many property managers to implement connected technology. Smart locks and other touch-less experiences are still in demand, and as competition increases, purposeful hardware, software and partnerships will become a primary differentiator among smart-apartment platforms. HIRI partner Omdia expects top smart-apartment platforms to offer their own hardware such as locks and thermostats to create a truly integrated platform. As such, the piecemeal approach to smart-apartment hardware will begin to fade, while the most successful brands will offer an end-to-end solution.
What does this mean for your brand? If you are hoping to penetrate the smart-hardware market, it may be best to approach this through a partnership with other smart-home brands who can help integrate your technology into a more full-service platform. The smart-home and smart-apartment industry will be much larger than hardware, and brands that offer a full package with the least technological headache will be the most successful.
HIRI works day in and out to provide the most current market forecasts to help industry professionals make informed decisions. Every full report and raw data file listed in this article is accessible to HIRI members.
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