Home-Basing: Trends & Insights on Homeowners’ Most Valuable Investment

Home-basing is a term coined by Trusted Media Brands and refers to the act of staying home and creating experiences there, as opposed to going out on the town. This trend has become especially popular with quarantines and stay-at-home orders in place around the country this year. 

The HIRI 2020 Virtual Summit included a presentation by Nick Grzechowiak, Chief Content Officer at Trusted Media Brands, on this trend. Entitled “Home Basing: Trends and Insights on Your Most Valuable Investment,” it explored the trends in homeowner and DIYer purchasing activity and helped Summit attendees understand the data that current market research reveals around home-basing. 

Home Improvement Trends + the Modern Homeowner

The research from HIRI’s recent tracker studies and product surveys shows homeowners are still spending on home improvement products. Homeowners are doing more home-basing this year because of the pandemic, and that’s led to a rise in more home improvement projects. 

“It’s likely we’ll see the word ‘nesting’ here in this presentation,” joked Grant at HIRI’s Virtual Summit this year. 

Nick’s work for Family Handyman (owned by Trusted Media) serves today’s homeowner — and that homeowner audience has evolved over time. The modern DIYer looks a little different than they did a generation ago. 

“We’ve been seeing a decline in what I call ‘traditional’ DIYer activity, where someone is passing along knowledge and a skillset to the next generation,” says Nick. 

But despite that decline, DIY projects (and purchases) are on the rise. 

That’s because there’s a new kind of homeowner who tackles projects on their home, and they know where to look for help and guidance. “Tools, materials and know-how are more accessible and easier-to-use than ever before,” explains Nick. 

Insights on Today’s Homeowner

So what does today’s home-basing customer look like, and how can home improvement companies understand and reach them? 

“Compared to 20+ years ago, today’s home buyer is more likely to be female, single and without children,” Nick explains. And if you talk to any new homeowner, you’re likely to hear them talk about knocking down a wall or remodeling the bathroom. 

“They’re motivated to make the home their own,” explains Nick. 

In fact, 85% of Trusted Media’s “Inner Circle” of survey respondents listed their home as their number one investment. So if they’re spending money on something, it might very likely be on a remodeling project … something that makes the space unique to them. 

“It’s something they’re improving and can hold onto, but hopefully someday cash out on to do something else,” Nick explains. 

Setting Expectations: How Homeowners Are Spending

The home improvement market has been a concern since the rise of the pandemic earlier this year, but HIRI and IHS Markit's latest research shows an increase of 8.7% in spend on home improvement products in 2020. 

There are a few other numbers of note for home improvement companies: 

  • Online and curbside pickup purchases went up in 2020: 21% of homeowners in HIRI’s research survey bought their products online, a significant increase from the 6% of homeowners who bought products online in 2018. 

  • HIRI expects home improvement product sales to taper off in 2021 since many homeowners tackled their planned projects this year while home-basing. The total home improvement market is expected to grow by 1.5% in 2021. 

Understanding the Home-Basing Customer

Homeowners aren’t the most predictable consumer, and when there’s an economic crisis, it’s hard for home improvement companies and organizations to make business decisions based on their behavior. 

But those companies need a way to measure progress in their business, even when there’s a new normal in the industry. You still have to make decisions about your business, and it helps when you can navigate those decisions with confidence (and data). 

What we can prove is that DIY projects are increasingly popular these days. Grant Farnsworth with HIRI explains that we’re seeing a continued “nesting phenomena” come into play in 2020, and home-basing is becoming the new norm.  

Here’s what home improvement companies can plan on, despite the unknowns of a pandemic: 

  • Home-basing and aging-in-place go hand-in-hand. Many homeowners want to make their space their own, but they want long-term solutions. The improvements they make should ensure they’re more comfortable in their homes or have serious ROI when it’s time to move out.

  • Because homeowners have had to navigate COVID restrictions, the number of in-store purchases are down by 20% from 2018 research.

This kind of data is important for home improvement companies and how they sell to their customers. “Website, social media and video have all been big components in how Family Handyman has evolved,” says Nick. 

Helping the Home-Basing Customer

Home improvement companies can adapt by improving their own online presence to help the home-basing customer. Make your products and services more shareable: Get your website and social media presence in order, so that you can reach the homeowners who are searching for DIY ideas while they’re home-basing. 

Not sure which products to promote? Take a look at what your customers are buying, and it’s likely that their shopping baskets contain a variety of products. “DIYers are buying in more categories and they’re spending more money,” says Grant Farnsworth. “Their baskets are getting bigger.” 

Shift your company’s sales approach to accommodate the home-basing customer’s larger shopping basket: offer discounts or product packages that appeal to your customers, share product installation videos that might inspire a new project or introduce new products they might find useful in your blog feed.

It’s especially important to understand how the economic crisis affects everyone: from homeowners to DIYers to contractors to architects. Recognizing this can help home improvement companies and retailers make more confident decisions around how to promote their business.

HIRI gives home improvement companies insights and tools to better understand the retail consumer. Join Trusted Media and other HIRI members and get even more useful data on how to handle the changes in the home improvement industry. Join HIRI for instant access to over $850,000 worth of home improvement industry data or sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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