The home improvement industry is going through exciting changes, from how homeowners are making their renovation decisions, to new technologies being introduced, to how retailers are approaching consumers. We have been tracking the announcements from industry shows and journals that highlight the innovative home improvement trends being used by brands and retailers to connect with consumers.
The View So Far In Home Improvement Trends
The home improvement industry is constantly evolving. Since there is a lack of new housing stock on the market, homeowners both young and old are reshaping older homes to suit their needs.
Younger Homeowners come of age
Younger consumers (ages 38 and younger) are starting to have an impact on the market as they age and begin purchasing homes. For example:
- Younger homeowners in the Southeast, the Midwest and non-coastal cities are finally reaching a point where they can purchase homes. Per TraQline’s latest demographic data, one in five homeowners is a Millennial, and Gen Z makes up 4 percent of homeowners.
- Younger homeowners are also choosing to roll up their sleeves and DIY their home renovations. In addition to purchasing the tools and supplies they need, these young homeowners are also on the lookout for resources to teach them the skills these renovations require. There could be additional opportunities for retailers to engage with these DIYers by producing well thought out content addressing their needs, both online and in-store.
Older Homeowners are upgrading
- Older homeowners, who both are more likely to have the available capital and more likely to own a home in general (e.g. Baby Boomers make up 41 percent of homeowners, per TraQline’s data), are upgrading their homes in order to age in place more easily.
- By adding accessibility features like shower bars or better lighting within kitchens, homeowners can remain in their homes safely, and avoid the costly move to nursing homes or retirement communities.
Automations take hold
Homeowners are also turning to automated solutions in their homes, ranging from security features like doorbell cameras to accessibility features such as voice-activated taps in kitchens and bathrooms. Others are opting for money-saving solutions like connected lights, thermostats, or leak detectors. These features help owners streamline their homes while adding safety and health features that non-connected goods cannot provide.
- Many of the smart home innovations we are currently seeing are in the kitchen and bath arena. Connected cooking appliances are making kitchens more adaptable, and in some cases, walking owners through how to cook meals. As far as home improvement trends go, connected appliances haven’t built up quite enough momentum to be completely mainstream, but they have steadily increased to 14 percent of the market.
- In the bathroom, “smart” shower systems, toilets, and even smart mirrors are making their way into homes, adding a layer of customization to daily hygiene habits.
Major Appliances, new features
When it comes to home improvement trends, major appliances especially are having a bit of a moment. While they took a back seat at major shows like KBIS during the Great Recession, they are now back in full force. The inclusion of more technical features, like wi-fi connectivity and ability to be controlled via an app or smart home hub means that manufacturers also highlight some of their products front and center at more tech-forward events such as CES. Some brands are also eager to introduce new products outside the typical “white goods” for which they are known. For example, LG had its new countertop brewing system on display at both KBIS and CES this year.
Colorful Appliances Capture Attention
Colorful appliances are still gaining traction in “white goods”. While stainless steel remains a popular option, manufacturers are flirting with other colors. In fact, luxury brand Smeg has worked closely with fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana to create extremely colorful, patterned surfaces for everything from refrigerators to range hoods. GE has even introduced a glass-coated appliance line. Despite that, White and Stainless still make up most major appliances, with 48 percent and 23 percent, respectively. Colors like red and blue only reach about 1 percent of the market.
Most new major appliances being debuted still straddle the line between utility and being technology forward.
Home Improvement Retailers embrace technology and the last mile?
Retailers are eager to reach consumers where they are, and to ease friction in purchase processes. They are emphasizing for customers and leveraging consumers’ access to smartphones and other technology to make their jobs easier. Mobile apps can be a real differentiator for in-store shoppers. One example we see in home improvement trends is the opposite of “show-rooming” – consumers may look for products or deals online via their mobile phone while in store, intent on making the purchase there. Retailers have made a note of this, and many stores are finding ways to tie together their physical space with their digital offerings.
With home improvement purchases starting to shift into e-commerce, retailers are bulking up their last-mile logistics- getting the item from their stores or warehouses to their customers. For example, Home Depot has invested in a group called Roadie, which crowdsources deliveries from retailers to customers’ front doors.
The cashierless store – store of the future?
With e-commerce being such a significant focus, retailers are observing Amazon’s moves and putting their own spin on them. One of the more recent developments has been Amazon’s cashierless stores. However, Amazon is already facing pushback because not everyone has credit cards or debit cards and therefore unable to shop there. Walmart has developed its own experimental store in New York, called “IRL” or “Intelligent Retail Lab” to experiment with its version of a store, putting their own spin on the concept. This emphasis on brick and mortar experiences is important as Home Improvement shoppers still prefer to buy in retail stores rather than make their purchases online 80 percent to 16 percent, respectively (per TraQline’s latest data). Despite the current preference, online purchases have increased steadily over the past four years.
As the younger generations come into their own, retailers and manufacturers are eager to reach these digital-native shoppers, leveraging their desire to upgrade their own homes and inject personality into previously uniform appliances. Smart features are slowly making their way into every facet of the home, adding an extra layer of connectivity between consumers and the products they purchase. The key home improvement trends we see most are ways to add convenience and personalization for shoppers Are there trends you’ve noticed in your own industry as you have worked to attract Millennial and Gen Z shoppers? Let us know here, or by tweeting us at @TraQline, or leave us a message on LinkedIn.