5 Key Takeaways from the Experts at the 2019 HIRI Summit

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends, Industry Insights

  • Date:

    October 04, 2019

5 Key Takeaways from the Experts at the 2019 HIRI Summit



Industry Trends, Industry Insights

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), the only nonprofit organization dedicated to home improvement research, hosted its annual 2019 Summit conference during September in Chicago.

One compelling takeaway for our team was this: Over the past few years, the brands, traditional media outlets and social media users in this industry have shaped and developed a stronger cultural force around the home including a certain standard of living and level of design expectation for the everyday. It’s much more than just the business of selling products.

“Our homes act as a place of refuge in all the ways ‘refuge’ can be defined,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Home improvement has the opportunity to go beyond repair. It has the opportunity to venture into the improvement of the physical, emotional and cultural environments of consumers and improve their quality of life.”

Here are some insights, takeaways and opportunities the industry should know to remain innovative and strong for years to come.

1. Embrace consumers’ increasing knowledge and hunger for design.

    “People are more intentional and purposeful, and it’s been interesting to see the shift. I think this is, in part, due to HGTV, which made information and inspiration on home improvement more accessible. This shift has inspired a new way of thinking about both form and function. Consumers are thinking, ‘I need to get this fixed the right way and in the most aesthetic way.’”

    –Margaret Callcott, Advertiser Insights Director at Discovery

    “I think there is so much opportunity. There are so many new conversations out there about DIY, remodeling and redecorating right now that it’s hard to not have it top of mind. We have new tools to be a bigger part of that conversation.”

    –Lauren Weigel, Director of Product – Household Ventilation at Broan

    2. Encourage the adoption of new research and market insights analysis as an internal business strategy for better decision-making in a changing economy.

      “Our data helps us see what happens to the industry in a recession. It still grows, but at a slower rate. This was the opposite of our original hypothesis and speaks to the resiliency of the industry.”

      –Keith Lam, Vice President at ENC Capital, a home improvement financing company

      “We use media in a way we did not before. For example, we use Instagram for social testing of our images, of our magazine covers. What Amazon has been effective at is the logistical stuff. But what I think we can all be successful at is bringing consumers into our world with a human touch and in a way that is guided by data.”

      –Carisha Swanson, Market Director at Hearst Media Group and House Beautiful, in her presentation “Home and the Amazon Effect”

      3. Ensure a superior customer experience across every facet of business strategy.

        “Harmonizing the customer experience is the secret sauce for brands. Providing goods is no longer enough. Poor customer service costs businesses more than $75 billion per year. On average, it will take 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience, and 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.”

        –Michele Booth, Head of U.S. Customer Experience Advisory at IPSOS, in her presentation “Customer Experience as Brand Differentiator”

        “You look at this generation of new homeowners and how they live their lives. Everything is instantaneous. They sometimes sacrifice control for ease. I think the brands that will win are the ones that can build trust and convenience and minimize friction.”

        –Allison Lowrie, CMO at ANGI Homeservices, during the lunch and learn panel “Platforms and Tools Disrupting Homeowner and Contractor Dynamics”

        4. Highlight company values to connect with like-minded consumers.

          “Eighty-six percent of Americans believe that companies should take a stand for social issues, and 63% say a company’s environmental reputation impacts their purchase decisions. What major purchase best reflects our values, green or otherwise? The home. Screaming, ‘You can save money’ is not the way to connect consumers to environmental products. Health and comfort are more compelling drivers for sustainability changes.”

          –Susan Shelton, President and CEO of Shelton Group, in her presentation “In Me, On Me, Around Me: Understanding the Health Concerns of Today’s Home Improvement Products’ Buyer”

          “Sixty-three percent of people ages 13–17 select brands that mirror their core values, and 72% of Generation Z say brands have just as much responsibility as individuals. This generation wants to see the making of the soup — what goes in, when it spills, what makes it tastes bad and what makes it taste good. For them, being a challenger brand is less about who you’re fighting and more about what you’re fighting for.”

          –Therese Caruso, Managing Director of Global Strategy and Insights at Zeno Group, in her presentation “Move Over Millennials, Gen We Is Poised to Be the Most Influential Generation Yet”

          5. Engage consumers through nontraditional media and retail experiences.

            “It’s important for us to remember not everyone is an industry expert, and that’s why influencers are so important. They build awareness, increase engagement, educate and build trust. If you can find a micro influencer that you believe in, they can become an important asset down the road. Influencer marketing blew up based on this ability for people to become their own publishers, but one of the best ways to use an influencer is to bring them into the real world. Build a measurement plan. When you have a plan upfront, it helps you pick the right partner and keep them accountable.”

            –John Mader, VP and Director of Connections at Wray Ward, in his presentation “Influencer Marketing in Home Improvement”

            “Experiential shopping will become more important. Retail is changing, but so is everything else. It’s dangerous to stay still. The biggest thing is to make the customer the priority.”

            –Brendan Baby, Head of Customer Intelligence at Home Depot, in his presentation “Home Improvement Trends in Retail”

            It’s Our Job to Think About Home

            “People love their homes — no matter the generation, whether it’s their first home or they’re aging in place. They love it and that speaks well for all of us.”

            –Diane Walsh, VP of Market Development & Sales Operations at ShurTech Brands

            We know people care deeply about the beauty, function and value of their homes, and we share that passion and enthusiasm. To meet increasingly personalized market demands, innovative marketing professionals will offer consultative solutions that meet consumers where they are, frame out what’s possible and help build a home they’re proud of while constructing a seamless, positive customer experience. Offering a cohesive and informative brand story, from discovery through conversion, makes your business that much easier for consumers to relate.

            Are you ready to meet the new challenges necessary to stand out in the home industry? If so, we’re here to help.

            Explore more articles from Wray Ward.