With the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic redefining the ways we inhabit our living spaces—combining work, leisure, and every-day life —global revenue in the DIY & home improvements sector has surged. This growth, amounting to 4.5% compared to previous years, has prompted experts to envision this industry’s potential to reach an astonishing $1.1 trillion.
Yet, as the Covid-19 dust settles and research indicates a gradual return to pre-pandemic growth rates, it prompts a compelling question: What lies ahead for the DIY & Housewares industry?
MacGregor Black sat down with Specialist DIY & Housewares Recruitment Consultant, Lewis Millican, to delve beneath the surface of the DIY & Housewares landscape and discuss the trends that are re-shaping the industry, the brands that are dominating the space, and what the future could hold for this ever-evolving category.
Unpacking the Trends
As the allure of home improvement experiences a slight ebb, brands in the sector are being encouraged to employ innovative strategies to maintain momentum amidst changing consumer behaviours and market dynamics.
So how are brands keeping up with the shifting tides?
Whilst sustaining appeal and desirability within the consumer market has long been a fundamental objective for a business. In today’s unpredictable economy, this pursuit takes on even greater significance.
Consumer-centric innovation is an opportunity for brands to remain relevant and has quickly become a crucial element within the DIY and housewares sector. It empowers brands to create products and experiences precisely attuned to the evolving behaviours of consumers. An exemplary case of consumer-centric innovation can be seen by Etsy, the global online marketplace.
Recognising a growing desire among their customers to support small businesses, Etsy recently embarked on a series of initiatives. The “Etsy Uplift Initiative” was a standout, designed to highlight and elevate local and small-scale sellers, simplifying the process for customers to actively support these businesses.
Moreover, as Etsy also noted more of their consumers embracing sustainable and eco-conscious practices, the American eCommerce brand expressed its commitment to social responsibility through the “Afghan Refugees Collective.” This initiative encompasses over 20 shops owned by Afghan refugees in the United States, collectively generating over $800,000 in sales.
“Not only do these moves resonate with the current consumer sentiment,” Lewis comments.
“They also solidify Etsy’s reputation as a platform that listens to its audience and connects buyers with unique and authentic products.“
A Personalised Approach
The significance of offering personalised and customisable products has emerged as a driving force behind sustained sales in the DIY & Housewares sector. Companies are no longer simply providing products; they’re empowering customers to become co-creators.
Tylko, a digital-first company specialising in customisable furniture, is a standout example of how harnessing a personalised approach can drive sales and foster brand loyalty in this post-pandemic era.
Tylko’s commitment to offering a personalised approach to furniture design, from adjustable shelving to bespoke tables, led to a whopping 132% increase in sales following Covid-19, in comparison to pre-pandemic years. A clear indicator that personalisation can enhance the emotional connection consumers have with their products, increasing their willingness to spend and ultimately bolstering brand loyalty.
Another approach that many brands can take to personalisation, is offering tailored recommendations to their customers shopping online.
Lowe’s, an American retail company specialising in home improvements, recently leveraged data from their loyalty program and customer interactions to create personalised offers and recommendations to customers shopping online. They used purchase history and browsing behaviour to send targeted promotions, discounts, and product recommendations to customers, which in turn, improved customer engagement and boosted post-pandemic sales.
Sustainability & Ethics
In a landscape where consumers’ focus on ethical consumption remains steadfast, embracing a sustainable and eco-friendly approach has become somewhat of a non-negotiable in not only the DIY & Housewares sector, but across various other industries.
IKEA, the Scandinavian ready-to-assemble furniture chain, is a prime example of this transformation. Previously plagued by controversy, IKEA has recently made significant strides towards becoming an eco-conscious company.
IKEA plans on achieving its ambitious goals by reducing plastics, utilising more sustainable materials, reducing packaging waste and continuing their campaign that allows customers to donate old furniture to make new pieces.
In February this year, the brand also released its sustainability and climate report detailing its plans to reduce its climate footprint and significantly increase the use of renewable energy. The Swedish retailer says it will address emissions across its supply chain and operations, from factories to transport, and target the impact of its roughly 460 stores. The company plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its supply chain, targeting 100% renewable energy in its production by the end of the decade.
Lewis Millican highlights that, “By investing in these initiatives, IKEA has not simply relied on a strategy of convenience and cost-efficiency, it has also successfully aligned itself with the current values of conscious consumers. The brand’s commitment to sustainability not only drives sales but does a good job at positioning IKEA as a brand that stands for more than just function.“
Partnerships & Collaborations
In the wake of the pandemic, various brands in the DIY and homewares sector have recognised the value of strategic collaborations to fuel sales and elevate their market presence. The result? A wave of partnerships that bring together innovation, expertise, and consumer appeal, driving a new era of growth in the industry.
On the 16th of August, George at Asda announced it has signed a new, exclusive collaboration with English singer and TV personality, Stacey Solomon. With an impressive following of over 5.7 million on Instagram, with whom she keenly shares her DIY and home improvement tips with, Stacey Solomon is in an ideal position to influence George Home’s target audience and affirm the brand as a key destination in the home interiors market.
When asked his thoughts on partnerships and collaborations in the industry, Lewis commented that, “influencer partnerships like the George x Stacey Solomon partnership have become increasingly popular within the DIY and Homewares sector. Influencers, celebrity or not, have the ability to showcase real life applications of DIY and home improvement products, and this really resonates with a niche target audience.“
According to a report conducted by The Social Shepherd in July this year, 61% of consumers trust influencer’s recommendations, meanwhile only 38% trusted branded social media content. Within this, working with influencers is simply unparalleled among younger consumers, as when looking for design inspiration in the planning of a room, nearly half of consumers aged 16 to 34 years old look to social media as the top source of influence for this age band.
With the above in mind, the partnership between George at Asda and Stacey could open the doors to new audiences, increase the brand visibility, and attract customers who may not have been previously exposed to the brand prior to the pandemic.
Another brand that has harnessed the power of partnerships is The Home Depot. The multi-national home improvements retailer has recently partnered with business intelligence company, Morning Consult to complete a survey which sampled recent homeowners or potential homebuyers born between 1981 and 2005.
The survey found that 53% of the millennials asked reported worries about purchasing their first home. In response, The Home Depot has launched the ‘New Homeowners Hub’, which aims to equip the next generation of current and future first-time homeowners with valuable resources including DIY guides, product recommendations, design inspiration and more.
Commenting on The Home Depot’s latest venture, Lewis states that “By recognising the specific hurdles millennials are up against, The Home Depot isn’t just demonstrating its dedication to keeping customers content; it’s also putting its brand on the same wavelength as a generation venturing into homeownership during these challenging post-pandemic times.”
Who’s Dominating and who’s Challenging?
As the DIY & Housewares industry undergoes transformation, it’s crucial to acknowledge the legacy brands that have played pivotal roles in shaping its trajectory. Giants like Kingfisher, IKEA, Wayfair, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s – to name a few – have helped set industry standards and inspire new players.
Below, Lewis highlights some of the brands that are making big waves in the industry right now.
Lick Paint is a London-based paint company founded in 2019 by Lucas London and Sam Bradley.
Launched with a fresh perspective, Lick Paint aims to disrupt the traditional paint-buying experience by offering a curated collection of paint colours and an online platform that simplifies the process of selecting and purchasing paint. Also, at a time when sustainability is paramount, the B-Corp certified brand’s paint is water-based, low in volatile organic compounds and their packaging is bio-degradable.
In 2021, Lick’s success prompted expansion beyond the UK into the United States, marking a significant milestone in their growth journey and making quality paint accessible to a global audience.
Lick Paint recently made headlines with an exciting collaboration, joining forces with The Kraft Heinz Company’s iconic Tomato Ketchup to introduce a ‘world-first’ opportunity. The Lick x Heinz partnership allows decorators and ketchup superfans alike to paint their homes in the vibrant ketchup red, aptly named Red HTK 57.
The limited-edition paint shade is exclusively available for a short time, with only 570 tins made-to-order via Lick’s website. This innovative partnership between Lick and Heinz brings together two passionate and distinct fan bases, poised to generate significant interest, elevate Lick’s brand visibility, and potentially drive increased sales.
Sleep tech firm, Simba Mattresses, a prominent player in the DIY & Housewares industry has been steadily climbing the ladder at a time in which many of their competitors have found increasingly challenging.
Even after consumer confidence fell in March 2022, Simba doubled their 2019 sales, demonstrating just how robust their business model and trading performance is. Last year, the brand also introduced the GO (Green Organic) mattress, as part of their drive for more sustainable sleep.
Commenting on the importance of sustainability at Simba, Co-founder and CEO Steve Reid told Furniture News, “Our ‘Health, People, Planet’ pillars put health, sustainability, and people at the centre of everything we do, and sustainability is a key pillar – not because it’s popular, but because we have a moral responsibility to uphold it.”
“That said, more consumers are making an informed choice with their sleep purchase. So, our mattresses are made in the UK, 100% recyclable, and we have a zero-to-landfill policy – all considerations at the point of purchase.”
Simba has also committed to making a conscious effort to offer more affordable and accessible price points for customers, as the cost-of-living crisis forces many to ditch their tool belt to tighten their financial belt. The retailer has extended their payment options from 12 months to 48, and now offer responsible lending in partnership with Novuna Consumer Finance.
Gorilla Glue is another brand that has been steadily ascending in the industry in recent years. Founded in the US, Gorilla Glue has quickly gained a solid reputation for its high-performance adhesives that can be used on virtually any material (although we don’t recommend using it as hair gel…).
At the core of Gorilla Glue’s success is its commitment to product quality. Recently, Gorilla Glue placed number one in a test titled ‘The Best Wood Glues Tested in 2023’, conducted by DIY enthusiast Bob Vila. And in January 2023, the brand released three new products designed to appeal to customers who are passionate about DIY but favour easy application. Their Gorilla Grab Adhesive can be used without the need for a cartridge gun, making it an ideal product for those tackling large DIY projects who may be overwhelmed by using a gun.
As consumers seek convenient solutions for their DIY endeavours, Gorilla Glue’s offerings simplify the process, making it more accessible and less intimidating for both experienced DIY enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
In doing so, the brand has not only secured its place in the post-pandemic DIY landscape, but also contributed to the wave of home improvement enthusiasts looking to transform their living spaces.
What Does the Future Hold for the Industry?
As consumer behaviours undergo continuous evolution, it’s evident that the brands taking proactive steps to transform, adapt, and embrace innovation will likely emerge as the industry’s future leaders.
Among the most remarkable catalysts of this transformation is technology, and its influence extends even to the DIY sector.
Brands in the DIY & Housewares sector are increasingly focusing on their digital offering. They’re enhancing their websites, optimising for mobile devices, and utilising e-commerce platforms to make it easy for customers to browse and purchase products online. However, it doesn’t stop there…
As our featured industry expert rightly puts it “The integration of smart home technology has become a hallmark of the modern DIY & Housewares sector,”
“Think smart thermostats, lighting systems, security cameras, and voice-activated assistants. It’s all about efficiency and convenience. Artificial intelligence and automation will also play a more significant role in the industry, with more brands utilising AI-powered tools to provide personalised project recommendations and automation to ultimately achieve more efficient and precise manufacturing processes.” comments, Lewis.
Lewis also added that customers may also see more brands utilising Augmented Reality in the future. Apps and platforms like IKEA Place already allow its users to visualise how furniture and décor items will look in their space before making a purchase. Features like these not only replicate the in-store experience but they also empower customers to make informed purchase decisions from the comfort of their homes, contributing to sustained sales even as growth rates stabilise.
“Not to mention, as environmental concerns continue to grow, technology will also play a vital role in promoting sustainability in the DIY & Housewares sectors.” Lewis observes.
“Which could even go beyond the development of eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient products, and apps that calculate the environmental impact of home improvement projects.“
So, as the initial surge in home improvement starts to level off, it’s clear to see that the industry faces a new landscape where innovation is the key to maintaining momentum. Consumer-centric innovation has taken centre stage, the importance of personalisation and customisability has surged, sustainability and ethics have become non-negotiable in the industry, and partnerships and collaborations have also played a significant role in driving industry growth. Today, the DIY & Housewares industry remains vibrant and full of opportunities for brands that are willing to adapt, innovate, and prioritise the needs of their customers.
If you’d like to speak with our dedicated team of specialist DIY & Housewares consultants, get in touch today via firstname.lastname@example.org or via +44 (0)191 691 1949.