2023 HIRI Insights Summit: 4 Takeaways for Home Improvement Marketing

  • Categories:

    Marketing Insights

  • Date:

    October 6, 2023

2023 HIRI Insights Summit: 4 Takeaways for Home Improvement Marketing

Marketing Insights

Every year, the Home Improvement Research Institute, the nation’s top resource for market research concerning the home improvement products industry, gathers top home and building industry experts to discuss how to stay ahead of the changes impacting the home improvement market at its annual Insights Summit. This year, I had the honor of sharing the stage with many of these industry experts as a presenter at the Summit.

Content Marketing Director Laura King Edwards and I took the stage to present on the staying power of influencers in home improvement marketing, including how brands can identify strategic partnerships and activate content across their digital platforms. However, when we weren’t busy delivering our own polished wisdom, I was soaking up other perspectives that could help inform strategies for some of our Wray Ward’s clients in the home and building category.

Here are my top-level takeaways from the 2023 Insights Summit.

1. The housing market is at an inflection point with challenges and opportunities.

Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, assistant vice president at the National Association of Home Builders, delivered a comprehensive overview of the housing market’s current state. She predicts a gain in single-family starts for 2024 due to low resale inventory caused by mortgage rate lock-in effects. In contrast, apartment construction is expected to decline in 2024 due to an oversupply of apartments and tightened commercial real estate financing.

Danushka also pointed out that housing affordability is decreasing due to rising interest rates, home prices and material costs, particularly in the entry-level market. Only 41% of housing stock is considered affordable for a family of four with a $96,000 household income.

Marketing insight: Home and building pros should recognize the changing landscape of housing demand. If the market shifts toward single-family housing, key messaging will likely require a shift as well to remain relevant. Additionally, it will be important to address affordability concerns in campaigns and/or promote financing solutions as these messages will resonate with consumers.

2. Supply chain challenges continue to impact the home improvement industry.

Kenzai USA’s Ken Pinto noted that supply chain challenges have somewhat eased due to lessening demand. Pinto attributed much of this temporary relief to a reduced demand for certain products and services.

However, despite some easing of supply chain issues at the national level, global unrest remains a significant threat. According to Wray Ward’s Insights and Brand Strategy Executive Director Leslie Gillock, external factors such as geopolitical conflicts and natural disasters may continue to disrupt the global supply chain, exacerbating issues that have been prevalent in the home and building category for several years.

Marketing insight: Remaining agile in response to changing supply chain conditions in the home improvement category continues to be crucial. If supply chain issues affect product availability or delivery times, use strategies that build clear communication and strong relationships with customers, such as email marketing and reliable customer support.

3. Businesses should take advantage of the drive for energy-efficient homes.

The scale of this opportunity is significant. According to Cheryn Metzger of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lucas Toffoli of the Rocky Mountain Institute, more than 90% of the 125 million residential housing units in the U.S. will require upgrades to align with climate goals. Notably, approximately 75 million of these units will require building envelope improvements, which include enhancements to insulation, windows and overall structural integrity. For businesses that operate in these and other categories, there are ample opportunities to incorporate sustainable products or remodeling tools, supporting customer needs and growing the bottom line.

Marketing insight: For those who want to take advantage of the growing trend toward sustainability, the market is ripe for targeted campaigns and product offerings. Some top-of-mind ideas include:

  • Collaborating with industry organizations to educate homeowners about the importance of energy efficiency

  • Amping up marketing initiatives to raise awareness about the environmental and cost-saving benefits of such upgrades

4. Understanding contractor needs and preferences is essential for success.

Connecting with the contractors who use specific products and staying up to date on their changing preferences is key to securing the trust of a large part of the target market. Today, contractors are increasingly using social media platforms, including YouTube, for product information, as highlighted by Grant Farnsworth of The Farnsworth Group at the Summit.

Farnsworth explained that social media has become a valuable resource for professionals in the home and building industry to access information, tutorials and product reviews. At Wray Ward, we see this exemplified in the loyal social followings for clients such as Huber Engineered Woods. Huber’s social platforms not only enable contractors to find product information and tutorials but also offer them a place to build community and brand loyalty by connecting with the brand and each other online.

Marketing insight: If you want to leverage the power of social media, don’t speak into the void. Listen to and observe what your target audience is thinking and feeling; then build a social strategy tailored to their needs. For an audience that relies on social networks to build a relationship with a brand, the amount of effort put in will correlate with ROI.

At the end of the day, understanding, empathy and a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of target audiences will lead to success.

In an era in which information is readily available and consumers are increasingly discerning, the path to success lies in staying informed and meeting customers where they are. I’m always thankful for opportunities to connect with the industry’s sharpest minds and get on the same page about the state of the home improvement industry. Hopefully, we can all continue to successfully navigate the challenges that lie ahead in the dynamic world of home improvement marketing.

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