DIYers Need Solutions

Industry must present consumers with DIY Solutions, not just offer products – that’s the conclusion from the European Association of DIY Manufacturers. Bob Vereen travels to Belgium for this special report…

Manufacturers and retailers must do a better job of presenting solutions to consumers for their DIY needs or problems, and not focus so much on selling products. That was the recurring theme of the third Biennial meeting of FEDIYMA, the European Association of DIY Manufacturers, held in Brussels, Belgium, in September this year.

Caption: Speaker, Frank Quix, from the Netherlands, a consultant/researcher who developed the data presented at the conferenceAHJUSNews01Nov05

It also was the primary conclusion of exhaustive, consumer research that FEDIYMA conducted this year over the internet, amongst more than 7,000 European households.

While FEDIYMA’s research was conducted among European consumers, it seems clear that the information from the research would apply to retailers, manufacturers and consumers in almost every country.

In some European countries, consumers are quite pleased with the presentations and service offered by DIY retailers, but in others they are less satisfied. And in almost every instance, it is clear that manufacturers and retailers can increase sales by recognizing the consumer’s need for inspiration and education about DIY projects. The research divided European consumers into five DIY groups, which have different attitudes and needs, and which vary in importance to both retailers and manufacturers. The five are:

 

  • Active DIYers – representing 21% of the market and the group tackling the biggest jobs and doing so on a regular basis
  • Home Improvers – representing 16% of the market and especially active in smaller, less complicated DIY tasks
  • Decorators – the largest market segment at 26%, predominantly female, whose DIY tasks are essentially limited to decorating improvements
  • Discounters – another 16% market segment, whose primary buying motivation is finding the best price for products
  • ‘Smeaser’ – a 21% segment which concentrates on small and easy DIY tasksBased on their spending, DIY ‘Smeasers’ are the least important segment, and Active DIYers and Home Improvers are the two most important. But there is more to these DIY groups than simply spending patterns. They differ in how they respond to brands and retailer presentations. Active DIYers are very much brand-oriented, so they will respond to retail and vendor promotions that stimulate them to perform more DIY tasks. They simply “like to do things.” Indeed, they are constantly seeking to improve their DIY skills and they like appreciation for the jobs they complete.

    Home improvers also are brand-oriented. They don’t perform DIY tasks for the sheer joy of it, but recognize they have to do it from an economic standpoint. Generally of an older age group, these people need help and guidance for some tasks, which means retailers and manufacturers must focus on providing such help to encourage and support their DIY efforts.

    Decorators, for example, are very brand conscious and look for brands they like and trust. They also are learning to accept store brands if they trust the retailer. To capture more sales from these customers, stores need to sponsor idea-stimulating demonstrations. Decorators like to use their free time improving their dwelling places and are willing to help others. Most important is that these are of a younger age group, representing customers of tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACaption: Research presented at the Brussels conference divided consumers into several categories

‘Smeasers’, tackling only small and easy projects, will accept unknown brands because they are constantly seeking low priced products, inasmuch as they don’t want to spend much on the DIY tasks they perform. They are seeking the easy way to do it and are doing it to save money, probably the group most interested in “solutions.”

 

Discounters, while a very sizeable consumer segment, are not brand-oriented and will buy unknown brands since they are looking for the lowest-priced product. Being price-conscious, they are very responsive to price-oriented promotions, but will buy only what they need at the time.

The study revealed that almost 60% of the total DIY consumer base can pay easily for the products and tools needed for DIY chores. About one-third of them are willing to upgrade to more expensive products if the retailer and/or manufacturer provide a convincing upgrade story.

A tight budget is clearly not an issue, but European DIY consumers are not foolish consumers either, as nearly 42% do compare prices. However, only 10% buy the lowest priced product when working on a DIY task.

What the study revealed is that consumers have some shopping frustrations which need to be addressed by retailers and manufacturers. DIYers of all types find it difficult to choose the right product – in part because of retail presentation and in part by conflicting claims. Shopping for what they need takes more time than they expected (which they don’t appreciate). They said they would like it to be easier to find the exact and correct information they need. They also reported that their costs are sometimes higher than they budgeted when they began thinking about a DIY home improvement project.

In their search for “solutions,” 57% said they would pay more if they better understood a brand or product’s advantages and 62% said they would pay more for products which would save them time or trouble. Sounds as though the marketing message is clear for both retailers and suppliers.

On a disturbing note, only 16% said they received positive information when they sought help in stores. It is clear that DIY retailing needs to evolve from a product emphasis to something that presents solutions. Where can – and do – consumers turn to for information about DIY projects when they are considering them? Sources DIYers use include family, friends, the internet, brochures and catalogues. The top eight sources are listed below.

Source DIYers Use For Information1. Family and friends

2. Internet

3. Brochures in the mail

4. Brochures available in stores

5. Store displays

6. Branded catalogues

7. Free magazines

8. TV programs

The importance of store displays and branded catalogues varied by country, depending on how effective a store’s displays and advertising mail outs were.

What seems important, the researchers said, is that TV and magazines are not prime informational sources. To better serve DIYers of all five types, retailers must handle pricing strategies more smartly and must use advertising more effectively – not simply consider it as a pricing strategy. They must also re-think their promotional policies to emphasize project stimulation more.

Suppliers must be sure their products are reliable and see what they can do to offer more “solutions”. One way suggested might be more alliances with related manufacturers so jointly, they can solve problems for consumers.

Retailers must be sure that they offer “easy choices” for consumers and that their displays focus on idea-generation. Since the internet ranked second as a source of help to DIYers, retailers and vendors alike will need to be sure their websites are being used to help consumers seeking solutions. Retailers and vendors must also assist consumers to overcome the time-constraints they face, and simplify the complexities they are challenged with when shopping, or thinking about embarking on new DIY projects.

By Bob Vereen, Hardware Journal’s US Correspondent