Media's Influence in Home Improvement

Consumers rely on the media for information and inspiration for home improvement projects. 

From traditional advertising in magazines and on the radio to modern social media channels, blogs, and websites, consumers turn to the media for many home improvement-related needs. Like many other aspects of society, media has changed over the years, transitioning from newspapers and radio to social media and the internet.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family were the top source for project planning information in 2011. Websites eclipsed friends and family sources with a subtle 3 percent growth between 2011 and 2017, making the internet the top source for project planning information. But when it comes time to gather inspiration for projects, nearly 30 percent of consumers are still more likely to visit a home improvement retailers’ store for ideas compared to 18 percent of consumers who would browse the website instead.

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Smart Home Technology in new Homes

Todd Tomalak, Senior Vice President of Research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting took time out to talk about the future of smart home technology and tell us how builders are utilizing "smart home" products in their homes. Smart home tech features are changing at an incredible pace, and homebuilders are taking note.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting is the industry leader for housing research and is HIRI’s preferred partner for new construction insights and works hand-in-hand with most of the major builders, developers, product manufacturers, and investors as they plan for their future.

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What's stopping home improvement projects

What’s stopping home improvement projects from getting done?

HIRI’s Barriers to Home Improvement research details the various factors that contribute to home improvement projects being put on the back burner. From lack of time and financial resources to indecision about the right products to buy or professionals to hire, around 32 percent of projects are postponed or completely disregarded — with bathroom and kitchen remodels at the top of the list.

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Things You Should Know About the HIRI Insights Conference

Past speaker and frequent attendee Grant Farnsworth, director of business development at The Farnsworth Group, caught up with us to share why he thinks the Insights Conference is a can’t-miss event for home improvement industry professionals.

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5 Reasons to Attend the HIRI Insights Conference

Want to stay ahead of the curve? If so, join us in Chicago September 18-19 for the HIRI Insights Conference — but don’t just take our word for it.

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What's on the horizon for the home improvement products market?

After posting strong market growth last year, the home improvement products market is expected to grow by an additional 5.3 percent in 2018. Housing starts are also projected to grow due to rising demand, lean inventories and rising prices.

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) partnered with IHS Markit to develop the U.S. Size of Market Report. This report delves into the recent IHS Economics forecast and looks at the forecast for the U.S. market through 2022.

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Who drives brand and product choice on residential builds?

Who makes product and brand decisions on residential projects — the buyer or the remodeler?

It depends.

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Project and Sentiment Tracking Study Released

This quarterly report examines planned home improvement activity across 30 project areas such as room renovations, roofing, lawn and garden updates, driveway repair, plumbing and electrical projects. This first quarterly report of 2018 also marks the beginning of a new tracking element. The Home Improvement Research Insitute (HIRI) added a question regarding planned budgets for home improvement projects. The newest addition revealed that less than half of all planned projects have budgets.

Join HIRI to obtain the most up-to-date consumer information with trends from 2012 to 2018.  

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Infographic: Life Stages and Home Improvement

The level of home improvement activity varies by life stage. Home improvement projects have been delayed for millennials who are entering marriage and homebuying later in life than their parents. However, the oldest millennials are now in their 30s and making moves. Now the largest generation, millennials are undertaking more home improvement projects today than they were two years ago, beating out their older counterparts by at least 19 percent.

But one thing millennials have in common with Generation X is the weight they place on self-expression. After moving out of the adolescent phase, they tend to let their independence and self-expression influence their decisions. This importance of self-expression can explain why almost 80 percent of people believe their home is a reflection of who they are, and 83 percent of recent homebuyers make improvements to their new home.

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Expected 5.3% growth in home improvement products market in 2018

HIRI/IHS Markit forecast expects 5.3% growth in home improvement products market in 2018 after a strong 5.6% in 2017.

Total home improvement products sales are expected to increase 5.3% in 2018 to $387 billion in total sales. The Professional Market is expected to increase 4.4% in 2018 over 2017 and the Consumer Market will see a sales increase of 5.7%.

The National Economic Outlook

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What are the top 10 home improvement topics trending on social media?

What are 10 home improvement topics trending on social media?

In 2017, HIRI examined the presence of home improvement topics on social media. The study employed social listening to identify key themes as hot topics for social media users, and to show how outside factors affect the prevalence of each topic.

Here are 10 home improvement topics trending on social media:

  1. Bath remodel
  2. Doors and windows
  3. Flooring
  4. Gardening, landscaping and lawn care
  5. Home automation
  6. Kitchen remodel
  7. Painting
  8. Patio/deck
  9. Plumbing
  10. Roof and siding

A majority of home renovation mentions online are positive. In September 2017, most of these online conversations focused on new bathrooms and smaller bathroom upgrades. Twitter accounted for 42 percent of the social chatter, with Tumblr and Instagram occupying a combined 28 percent. As Tumblr and Instagram become more relevant, traditional forums and news sites are losing relevance as top bath remodeling sources. As such, bathroom remodeling manufacturers should seriously consider adding Tumblr and Instagram to their marketing mix.

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Low-Cost Home Improvement Projects Fuel Strong Spending

While homeowners are reducing spending in some areas, they aren’t shying away from home improvement projects. According to the Home Improvement Research Institute’s (HIRI) 2017 Project Decision Study, nearly 40 percent of homeowners are increasing their home improvement spend, undertaking two to three home improvement projects on an annual basis.

Homeowners are still price-conscious, however. In fact, the median total spend on home improvement projects is just $500 to $590, and consumers are often paying out-of-pocket by cash or check.

These projects, while on the lower end of the cost spectrum, happen more frequently and thus contribute to a large portion of total spending. Price plays an important role in the decision-making and material selection process, and some homeowners will shop around to find the best price. They are also more likely to undertake a project rather than postpone it if they are offered financial incentives.

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Watch Short Videos from Top Industry Thought Leaders to Help Drive Your Business

If you specialize in home and building products, the insights packed into short videos from economists, researchers and thought leaders may help drive your business. Videos feature experts from Houzz, Nielsen, Harvard University and many others featured as speakers at the Home Improvement Research Institute Insights Conference. WATCH NOW

How to Better Serve Your Customers in a Dynamic Home Improvement Landscape

The home improvement industry is no stranger to change, and today it’s quickly evolving parallel to emerging social, technological and economic trends. These fast changes mean that more than ever, brands must carefully consider what’s happening now, next steps and the evolution of consumers’ motivations and marketplace expectations. 

Here are highlights from our recent Building the Future study.

The role of social factors in home improvement

Traditional life stage trajectories are changing. Today, businesses must think about consumers according to their life stage, rather than age. Life paths are increasingly becoming more flexible, especially when it comes to millennials. For example, millennials’ delayed movement to family formation is increasing the average age of first-time parents. And while nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population is more than 65 years old, age isn’t their only defining quality.

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New Administration Causes Shift in Home Improvement Industry Outlook

Many factors can affect the home improvement category including overall consumer sentiment, labor supply, the economy and the political climate.

What effect will the administration elected into office in November 2016 have on the home improvement industry? Here are seven current and potential results: 

  1. Increased infrastructure spending will be distributed fairly evenly across the U.S. Tax cuts for higher tax brackets could boost the Northeast and West.
  2. International trade will be affected by potentially higher tariffs on imports from the renegotiations of existing trade deals.
  3. Employment, real incomes and household net worth are projected to rise. As a result, consumer spending will steadily increase.
  4. After the election, domestic small business sentiment rose considerably.
  5. A slice of the current housing market is at the intersection of labor supply and politics. Housing demand is outpacing supply, and the U.S. is in the middle of a labor shortage. So, new immigration policies could potentially decrease supply further.
  6. Starting in January 2018, the statutory corporate income tax rate will be reduced from 35 to 25 percent.
  7. The combination of rising prices and wages, the fiscal stimulus and strengthening loan demand will result in higher interest rates.


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Contractor Study Sheds Light on Purchase Behaviors of Remodelers and Specialists

HIRI surveyed more than 1,600 remodelers and specialists to track product category activities and purchase behaviors.

Here are six highlights from the study:

  1. Remodelers and specialists purchase a lot of their materials from warehouse home centers like Lowe’s and Home Depot. That being said, generalists reported using specialty suppliers 9 percent more than in 2015.
  2. Specialists increased home center usage by 11 percent compared to this time last year, and both groups are increasingly buying less from lumber building material dealers.
  3. When presented with a name brand tool or material, home improvement remodelers and specialty contractors choose it over the store brand two-thirds of the time. While it varies across categories, this highlights pros’ preference for quality and service, not just low prices. “Holistically, quality has increased in importance as price pressure has been relieved and brand is often a surrogate for quality,” said Grant Farnsworth, partner and director of business development at The Farnsworth Group. “Price is still important, but 10 or 15 years ago, it was the only factor. As that price pressure declines, quality and service become more important.”
  4. Around two-thirds of those surveyed said that their sales volume increased over the past two years.
  5. Most pros are incorporating universal design and aging-in-place practices into their trade. Only 9 percent of general remodelers said this is not a priority for them.
  6. Nearly three-quarters of respondents use a substantial amount of environmentally friendly products. “Part of this is by default, as more and more companies are making products that are environmentally friendly,” Farnsworth said. “It’s also been some time since we’ve started talking about green, so contractors’ comfort level is increasing, especially as they realize that being environmentally friendly equals a nice return on investment for the homeowner.”

Research for this biennial study comes from HIRI in conjunction with The Farnsworth Group. To access primary research on contractor purchase behaviors, join HIRI.

12 Things to Know About Home Improvement Right Now

Want to stay ahead of the curve in the home improvement industry? Sometimes, spending a few days with like-minded industry pros and peers is the best way to succeed.

Industry leaders from across the country gathered at the HIRI 2017 Insights Conference in Chicago. The event, hosted annually by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), featured speakers from Harvard University, HomeAdvisor, J.D. Power and Associates, Kantar Retail, Nielsen and more.

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The Role of Social Media in Home Improvement: How to Reach Consumers

Social media is the preeminent means of communication in today’s society. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how it is used in the home improvement industry.

In this recent study, 75 percent of respondents, all over the age of 25, said they use social media every day. More than 60 percent said they use general social sites like YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest for their home improvement needs. Users are primarily looking for price comparisons, photos and instructions, how-to videos and project ideas. But home-specific social media platforms have a major gap to fill: only 32 percent reported using platforms like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.

Home-specific platforms have an opportunity to address the awareness problem and bridge the gap, especially during homeowners’ crucial planning stage.

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Homeowner Project Planning Lags Again, but Change Could Be Around the Corner

After a second quarter drop in homeowner project planning, the third quarter of 2017 followed suit. Though normally a strong project planning season, this quarter is the lowest of the year to date. The lag is partly due to odd weather patterns, such as unusually significant rainfall, that have impacted homeowner projects. Exterior painting and exterior door and roof projects also experienced a major drop. Meanwhile, lawn, garden and landscape projects remained the top projects across the nation.

These findings are based on interviews with about 3,000 homeowners. Of those, 68 percent plan to undertake one or more home improvement projects within the next three months, down 5.6 percent from this time last year.

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Recent Homebuyers Fuel Renovation Boom

The Home Improvement Research Institute commissioned a study featuring insights from recent homebuyers on what home improvement projects they undertake and why. Of the more than 800 homebuyers interviewed, around 75 percent plan to make renovations to their home. Additionally, 56 percent plan to make improvements in the next six months.

For brands, this means an opportunity to offer guidance and navigate recent homebuyers, and especially first-time buyers, toward certain products. 

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