Key Takeaways from the 2020 Virtual Summit

This year’s HIRI Summit was, like most conferences and events in 2020, held a little differently — though that didn’t take away from the wealth of knowledge the panel of experts imparted.

The HIRI Virtual Summit 2020 event provided attendees access to valuable data and market research on home improvement over a three-day span. The best part was, this year, registrants could attend from wherever they were, at no cost. 

Even though we didn’t connect in person, there were countless benefits to virtually attending this year’s HIRI Summit. In case you missed it, let’s look at what the virtual summit included and some of the key takeaways we learned from industry experts. 

HIRI Summit Takeaways: Insights on the Industry

The Home Improvement Research Industry (HIRI) is the only non-profit organization committed to tracking and reporting on updates in the home improvement market exclusively for its members. The HIRI Summit is typically an in-person annual conference, but this year the Summit was a three-day virtual gathering for home industry professionals. 

The Summit was an opportunity for those in the home improvement industry to learn about the latest trends in consumer and contractor behaviors (as well as to network and connect digitally). The talks included the following topics:

  • Exclusive DIY and Pro data and research on market dynamics

  • The economy and the home improvement market

  • Future of DIY and professional projects during COVID-19 

Here are just a few of the biggest takeaways from the HIRI Summit.

1. Homeowners Are Home-Basing

Trusted Media Brands coined the term “home-basing” not long ago, and it describes the trend of staying at home instead of going out. They used the term even before stay-at-home orders were in place during the COVID-19 crisis, but the trend of nesting has gained popularity since many families have quarantined for most of 2020. 

Many home improvement brands have found ways to help homeowners during such “unprecedented” times. After all, since families are home-basing and staying in more often, they’re probably going to want to improve the space they’re in. 

“We’ve got to help innovate on ways for them to battle boredom, whether that’s finding a new hobby or finishing a ‘someday’ project,” says Joe Derochowski, a Home Industry advisor with the NPD Group. 

2. DIY Is On The Rise 

Staying home more frequently, health concerns and financial restraints made many homeowners reconsider home improvement projects: Instead of hiring a contractor, they might decide to tackle the job themselves. 

A large percentage of those DIY projects are in the kitchen, according to market research. “A lot of people are spending time in this area. They’re not really doing the takeout thing, and are cooking a lot of their meals at home,” says Dr. Jessica Lautz, VP of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for the National Association of Realtors. 

Updating these spaces is both fulfilling for the home-basing consumer and another step towards investing in one of their most valuable assets (their home).

3. How Suppliers Can Meet Buyers’ Demands

The HIRI Summit allowed attendees to get a glimpse of how the home improvement industry is performing and what the market looks like for materials and product suppliers. 

Home improvement retailers can cater their sales messages to reach homeowners and professionals who need solutions for construction and remodeling projects. By understanding the demands of their customers, retailers can act as a resource for completing these projects. 

Green home and healthy building aren’t just trends in construction, for instance, and retailers can give customers the materials and products they need to build safer and healthier spaces. According to Bill Hayward with Hayward Score, “Homes should be health-supporting, not health degrading.”

Some of the easiest ways to upgrade the health of a home are already stocked in stores and online, and retailers can help their customers with decisions on their upgrades. “No particle board, OSB, volatile paints or any foam insulation, for instance,” says Bill Hayward with Hayward Score. 

4. Your Home Improvement Purchases Are a Personal Statement

It’s important for home improvement retailers and organizations to understand that their customers consider their purchases to be a statement about their identity. 

“The more choices we have today means that each purchase made becomes a personal brand statement,” explains Mikaela Sharp with John Burns Real Estate Consulting. And for many DIYers and homeowners, home improvement purchases are often public knowledge. 

“Social media broadcasts those purchases to everyone,” says Mikaela. 

Home improvement retailers and firms can make the experience a positive, memorable one for their customers so that they’ll want to share that experience with their own online audience. 

5. Remember That “Convenience Is King”

If you’re trying to reach your customer, whether they’re shopping online for products or visiting a brick-and-mortar shop, you’ll need to anticipate how they’ll shop with you and what will make the experience easier for them. 

Zach Williams, CEO of digital marketing agency Venveo, showed Summit attendees the best ways for home improvement retailers and construction organizations to sell their products. Because so many consumers are making their purchases online, retailers can make that process a smooth, pain-free journey for them. 

“This checkout experience tells the buyer to purchase the product, and any questions about sizing will be handled after the purchase,” explains Zach, “They’re helping people get answers to their questions more quickly.” 

Home Improvement Networking and Insights

Every presentation at this year’s HIRI Summit brought revelatory conversations and helpful, actionable advice from experts. 

Next year’s market research is sure to bring even more insights, but you don’t have to wait to get more insights. By becoming a HIRI member, you can get access to all past, current and future research.

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