DIY home improvement is a common trend for all generations of homeowners. You can stand out as an affordable, professional option by knowing your audiences.
As years pass and trends change, so does the home improvement industry. Older generations pass on, and new generations become homeowners. And with these new homeowners come new trends, such as DIY home improvements.
While not an entirely new trend, DIY has seen a resurgence over the past few years. The pandemic sparked DIY trends on social media, and even though people are returning to the office, DIY is still trending. Between March 2020 and August 2022, 73% of Americans completed a DIY project. As of February 2023, 71% of homeowners still turn to DIY because of inflation.
As a contractor, competing against DIY is tricky. You’re not competing against another business, after all. You’re competing against homeowner attitudes toward home improvement projects. To go head-to-head with the appeal of DIY, you’ll first need to understand these attitudes and how they differ among generations.
UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT GENERATIONS OF HOMEOWNERS
Your campaign to compete with DIY won’t be as successful if you don’t know who you’re marketing to. So, before you focus on your messaging, you need to understand the different generations of homeowners you’ll be working with.
Profile #1: The Young Homeowner
The Young Homeowner is your millennial and Gen Z homeowner. These generations aren’t just living in their parents’ basements or renting expensive apartments. In fact, there are now more millennial homeowners than renters. And although Gen Z is just starting to own homes, they’ll likely follow some of the same trends as millennials.
The Young Homeowner is one of your biggest customers. Millennials are completing the most home improvement projects out of all generations (about 5 per year). And not only are they completing more projects, but they’re also spending about 30% more than other generations.
Working with Young Homeowners is a great way to get a big ticket since they’re willing to spend more. But you’ll still have to convince them your services are worth the investment over DIY home improvements. How do you pull that off?
Well, you’ll need to get in front of them first. 67% of millennials and 71% of Gen Z use social media to find inspiration for DIY projects. They typically lean toward visual platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok for this inspiration.
If you don’t have any experience using social media for your home improvement business, start with Facebook and Instagram. Try posting before and after pictures of different renovations to these platforms and see what interaction you get. If your audience likes it, keep going. As you get more familiar, start working other platforms and videos into your social strategy. The more diverse content you post, the more attention you’ll attract.
Profile #2: The Typical Homeowner
The Typical Homeowner is your Gen X homeowner. Even though this generation doesn’t own the majority of homes, they’re what you think of when you picture a homeowner: two parents, two-and-a-half kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. Homes are obviously far more diverse than this, but you get the gist.
Like the Young Homeowner, the Typical Homeowner DIYs to save money. This makes sense, as Gen X has the highest average debt of all generations. So why wouldn’t they save a few bucks where they can?
But as you know, amateur DIY is better left for little things. The bigger the project, the bigger chance something will go wrong. Homeowners may install something incorrectly, break something, or just get in way over their heads — you know what I’m talking about. They then have to hire a professional anyway and spend even more.
Plus, unlike the Young Homeowner, the Typical Homeowner is less comfortable taking on DIY home improvements. That’s why customer education is a great place to start with this generation. You may not be able to solve the entire pricing problem for these homeowners. But you can do your best to show them that professional services can be affordable, sometimes even more affordable than DIY.
Like the Young Homeowner, social media is the easiest place to reach the Typical Homeowner. Although they might not research DIY on social media as much as the Young Homeowner, they are 58% more likely to visit brand websites from a social post. This means your post could grab their attention even when they’re not actively looking for DIY home improvement ideas, which is a great opportunity for your business to create brand awareness.
Profile #3: The Retiree Homeowner
The Retiree Homeowner includes two generations: Baby Boomers (headed to retirement) and the Silent Generation (already retired). About 78% of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation own homes, and they’re not planning on selling, either. In fact, 90% of seniors plan to age in place. Still, Baby Boomers are the most likely generation to DIY home improvements. Why is that? Retirees have more time to DIY than other generations.
Unfortunately, you can’t help them fill their time with something else, so going with a professional over DIY may be a harder sell for these generations. They’ve been doing these things for years and will probably want to keep doing them as long as possible. A better selling opportunity may be assisting with improvements like barrier-free bathroom design — something your homeowners likely aren’t used to doing on their own.
These generations don’t look online for DIY ideas as much as others — only about 9% use Facebook for home improvement ideas, and only 11% make DIY purchases online. Boomers are also the generation most comfortable with DIY, so they may not need as many resources. Your best bet to reach this generation is marketing to their children and grandchildren who can pass information along or have conversations with them in person while providing other services.
OFFER FINANCING TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE
Offering financing to customers can be a great way to market your services to all generations. As we’ve discussed, debt — especially credit card debt — is increasing for most people, and over half of homeowners are turning to DIY home improvements to save money. But how are they paying for these materials? Probably with their credit card. And with crazy interest rates, their debt will only likely increase and be harder to pay off.
As a home improvement contractor, you can offer your customers financing options other than a credit card. For example, FTL Finance offers installment loans with fixed interest rates. These rates are competitive with credit cards, but your customer is guaranteed to pay the loan off in a set number of years as long as they make the required payments. This way, they can save money and get their home improvements professionally done by you — it’s a win-win-win.
Though all homeowners are looking for something different, marketing to these generations specifically and offering financing options are essential to compete with the DIY trend.