Millennials Gen X and Baby Boomer Differences in Home Improvement

7 Differences Driving Home Improvement Behaviors Among Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers in 2023

Apr 13, 2023

It’s no sur­prise that con­sumers of dif­fer­ing ages and in dif­fer­ing life stages have vary­ing pref­er­ences and pur­chase moti­va­tions when it comes to select­ing home improve­ment prod­ucts. Gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences can have an effect on all aspects of the pur­chase jour­ney, from pre­ferred shop­ping chan­nels to point of pur­chase con­sid­er­a­tions, and post-pur­chase brand loyalties.

Our ana­lysts at The Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute pro­vide home improve­ment relat­ed com­pa­nies with core insights to help you under­stand your audi­ences, which is why we ana­lyzed the results of var­i­ous HIRI stud­ies into the lat­est Gen­er­a­tions at Home Report.

This analy­sis pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of gen­er­a­tional atti­tudes and behav­iors towards the means by which home improve­ment projects are com­plet­ed, com­par­ing behav­iors across all gen­er­a­tions from Mil­len­ni­als to the Silent Generation.

Here are 7 select find­ings that are explored in greater detail in the full report:

1. Millennials complete nearly 5 home improvement projects annually.

Aged 27 to 42, mil­len­ni­als lead many of the trends we see in home improve­ment. This cohort com­pletes, on aver­age, 4.8 home improve­ment projects per year, and 49% com­plete five or more projects per year — the most of any gen­er­a­tion. Mil­len­ni­als are also the biggest spenders of the bunch, spend­ing approx­i­mate­ly 30% more per project than the average.

2. Generation X Are DIYers.

Gen Xers are between the ages of 43 and 58 years old. This gen­er­a­tion pos­sess­es greater con­fi­dence in its DIY abil­i­ties com­pared to Mil­len­ni­als, but less con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ties as com­pared to old­er generations. 

Inter­est­ing­ly, while Mil­len­ni­als and Gen X are least com­fort­able doing the DIY work, these two gen­er­a­tions choose to DIY a project the most.

Reasons to Do-It-Yourself

Project Completion Method: DIY or DIFM

And even though the rea­son Gen X decide to DIY most is to save mon­ey, they will opt for DIFM over BIY when they do choose to work with a Pro. BIY” stands for Buy-It-Your­self” and refers to when a home­own­er pur­chas­es the mate­ri­als but pays a Pro to install them. DIFM” stands for Do-It-For-Me” and refers to con­tract­ing the work out to a Pro.

We asked var­i­ous oth­er ques­tions and from the respons­es, there’s a trend that as these home­own­ers age, their rea­son to hire a pro increas­ing­ly becomes to ensure the project is done right, where­as their younger cohort reports not being able to do the job alone as a top motivation. 

3. Baby Boomers Focus on Repair and Maintenance.

Per­haps unsur­pris­ing­ly, Baby Boomers plan to improve their homes the least of all age groups, with 72% pur­chas­ing a home need­ing no major ren­o­va­tions. 38% of boomers are per­form­ing one to two home improve­ment projects per year as of find­ings from 2022, and the pri­ma­ry project they under­take are roof replace­ments. This gen­er­a­tion, aged 59 to 77, reports stay­ing in their home as they age as the top home improve­ment priority. 

4. Millennials Crave the Experience.

Accord­ing to find­ings from our var­i­ous stud­ies, Mil­len­ni­als are more prone to make expe­ri­ence based” home improve­ment deci­sions, whether that be decid­ing to DIY because they enjoy the project and even when it comes to to hir­ing a pro­fes­sion­al because they had a good expe­ri­ence in the past.

This mind­set also influ­ences how they shop. Mil­len­ni­als are more like­ly than any oth­er gen­er­a­tion to shop at more than one retail­er and least like­ly to only shop at a brick and mor­tar store, opt­ing for both in store and online shopping.

When Asked If They Shop at More Than One Retailer, 42% of Millennials Said Yes
When Asked If They Shop at More Than One Retail­er, 42% of Mil­len­ni­als Said, Yes.”

5. Younger Generations Research More Online. 

We know that at least 90% of home­own­ers per­form some degree of research before buy­ing. How­ev­er, younger gen­er­a­tions — over 50% of Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Xers — research more online com­pared to old­er cohorts.

6. Younger Generations Spend More Time Planning.

Age and project plan­ning cor­re­late neg­a­tive­ly, with younger gen­er­a­tions plan­ning more before start­ing a project than old­er gen­er­a­tions do. Baby boomers have the short­est project time­lines, aver­ag­ing about five months.

7. Gardening, Painting, and Lighting Projects are Favorites Among All Generations

When asked what projects were com­plet­ed most often, all three gen­er­a­tions had the same top three answers for the most pop­u­lar projects: gar­den­ing, paint­ing and lighting.

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Taking Your Home Improvement Products to Market Among Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers

All that said, there are some gen­er­al prin­ci­ples you can apply in your go-to-mar­ket and adver­tis­ing strate­gies to increase mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion among var­i­ous generations:

Provide Information to Consumers Before Purchase:

As analy­sis of these reports sug­gests, mil­len­ni­als espe­cial­ly pri­or­i­tize get­ting prod­uct infor­ma­tion online before pur­chas­ing, and Gen X cus­tomers find val­ue in con­duct­ing online research as well. Man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers should pro­vide detailed infor­ma­tion about how to use their prod­ucts in applic­a­ble projects on their web­sites and through social media plat­forms to sat­is­fy pre-project researchers.

The degree to which infor­ma­tion should be acces­si­ble and over which infor­ma­tion chan­nels varies by cat­e­go­ry, and can be fur­ther under­stood by data in the Project Deci­sion Study.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers and retail­ers can imbue con­tin­ued con­fi­dence in DIY’ing by tak­ing to mar­ket prod­ucts that cater to Mil­len­ni­al and Gen X’s DIY inter­ests and encour­age them to take on more projects.

Enhance online planning resources:

The report sug­gests that age and project plan­ning cor­re­late neg­a­tive­ly, with younger gen­er­a­tions plan­ning more. Man­u­fac­tur­ers and retail­ers can offer online resources such as project tuto­ri­als and guides to assist with plan­ning and organizing.

Iden­ti­fy which mar­ket­ing touch-points are most attrib­ut­able to the point of sale and be sure to invest in pro­vid­ing high val­ue buy­er’s jour­ney’s at those points to increase mar­ket share.

In gen­er­al, we see that Baby Boomers spend less time con­sid­er­ing and com­plet­ing a project, where­as younger gen­er­a­tions, like Mil­len­ni­als spend more time.

Better Understand Your Market.

By under­stand­ing key gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences and apply­ing learn­ings gleaned from insights, home improve­ment pro­fes­sion­als can cre­ate and mar­ket prod­ucts that appeal to spe­cif­ic age groups while tai­lor­ing their mar­ket­ing and sales strate­gies accordingly.

Want to dig into the full Gen­er­a­tions at Home Report and tab­u­late the source data specif­i­cal­ly for your own use cas­es? Join HIRI for unlim­it­ed access to our full stores of exclu­sive research.

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