Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers found themselves spending significantly more time at home, the building products industry has seen a considerable uptick in sales. Fifty-one percent of homeowners said they did a home improvement project between March and May, and the building material and garden category is up more than 22% vs. 2019. New home construction has also seen a huge uptick, with sales of newly built homes jumping 55% in June from the prior year.
At the same time, consumers are using digital tools at record levels to inspire, equip and otherwise prepare themselves to tackle these projects. A Consumer Specialists survey shows that 63.5% of consumers who have completed home improvement projects used online tools for project inspiration and instruction, an increase of 12% over a year ago.
What does this mean?
These increases obviously represent a significant opportunity for building product manufacturers and retailers. However, due to a shift in purchase behaviors, many building product brands may not be fully realizing the potential upside.
Key among these shifts is consumers’ accelerated adoption of digital tools, which presents unique challenges in a category where customers are used to browsing and discovering new brands and products in stores. Another trend is consumers’ increased reliance on trusted brands, instead of shopping around, because they are looking for comfort and safety as they make decisions. These two factors together can make it even harder for brands – especially building products brands – to garner attention and drive sales.
What should marketers be doing?
If your brand isn’t among the first that consumers think of when they shop online, how do you make sure you not only reach your audience, but make it into the consideration set? A few high-level things to consider:
- Implement or increase paid media to reach consumers where and when they are researching. If consumers aren’t predisposed to come looking for you, make sure you appear where they are looking, when they are looking. Targeted media buys on platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, paid search and others ensure you reach interested audiences where and when they are in the shopping mood. Consider tactics like videos, shoppable units or chatbots, all of which allow consumers to have a deeper experience and potentially interact with your product.
- Make your brand “discoverable.” Most home improvement consumers are used to shopping in person where they can touch and feel the products they are exploring. Try to emulate that experience through content on your owned channels (websites, retailers’ websites, organic social media channels, etc.) where consumers can explore products, see detailed pictures and watch videos that provide context and inspiration. Giving consumers a more in-depth experience will facilitate a leap of faith in a product/category/brand where they don’t have familiarity.
- Ensure your advertising and content signal credibility. For consumers who are considering buying your brands for the first time, credibility is key. Especially in categories that include big-ticket items or home products that may reflect on the consumers themselves. Ensure your website, videos and advertising content are clear, consistent, compelling and professionally produced, and that your media placements reflect the right image for your brand. Media placements themselves can have a tremendous effect on the perception of your brand, a concept in economics called “signaling.”
- Consider incentives for first-time shoppers who may need to overcome the “trust” barrier. Sometimes consumers just need that little nudge to get them over that last hurdle. Consider incentives for things like first purchases or email capture, since that will allow you to provide ongoing, inspiring and helpful content around your brand.
Are you doing everything you can to ensure home improvement shoppers are finding – and choosing – your products? We can help.