The home is becoming smaller and more expensive – 32% smaller than they were in the 70s, and 188% more expensive than 20 years ago. Meanwhile, being forced to spend more time in our homes during lockdown means we have greater expectations for our shrinking living spaces. We expect to be able to work hard at home: two thirds of UK working adults now prefer to work from home; and 70% of consumers now hyper aware of how their living space affects their wellbeing. These shifts have contributed to a sharp rise in consumers interested in DIY and home improvement.
In 2021, 48% of Brits took part in home restorations or DIY, spending a record breaking £15 billion throughout the year – a 10.8% increase from the year before (mintel 2022). This rising interest is set to continue, with a 3% CAGR (combined annual growth rate) predicted between 2021-2026 in the DIY home improvement sector.
Who is the home improvement customer of the future? How will they live? What will they buy?
Customers are complex and their needs are varied and subjective. At Magnetic we use innovation insight and foresight methods to understand trends and predict customers of the future. We pair this with customer closeness techniques to better understand the customers, and human-centred-design to create innovative products and services suited directly to their needs.
Through our research we have identified seven trends directly impacting current and near-future DIY home improvement customers:
These insights and macro trends enable us to understand consumer behaviours and attitudinal shifts at present and into the near future. Personas created through research allow us to test our assumptions using experiments.
To give you an idea of how a persona might be brought to life, we’ve imagined a customer of the future and pulled together some new products and services they might love.
What might a future DIY home improvement customer be like?
Casey is a hard working, creative and sociable person, living in a small flat in central Manchester. Although she loves where she lives, the rising cost of living and increasing property prices have left her unable to buy a property. In reality, her income of £32k, leaves her with a take home income of £2k after tax – that’s £700 after paying her rent. After bills, direct debits, travel and food budget, she only has around £200 of disposable income each month. Her priority is to spend wisely, buying items that suit her taste in decor, make her small-space feel bigger and are also environmentally friendly and sustainable.
What kind of products or services may Casey be interested in?
Taking a look at the most innovative products and services currently out there, we have imagined what products and services would suit a customer like Casey, in her small rented flat in Manchester city centre.
Based on the trends we have identified, and the persona we have sketched out, we have researched products and services that already exist, and proposed the most relevant to Casey our future home improvement customer:
Inner city living, small spaces, and multifaceted needs – no problem!:
Multifunctional furniture products specifically for smaller spaces such as sofas that come in a box, with no tools needed (like DFS offer and loaf offer), multi use or clever fold away desks for flexible working, or clever storage options.
To cater for smaller inner-city living, Ori offers expandable apartments, where the whole space you live in can move around. And Bumblebee creates truly multifunctional spaces, with furniture hidden in ceilings and walls!
Part of generation rent? Cost effective options are available:
- More high quality affordable furniture options such as the flat packed furniture championed by Ikea, and also the John Lewis ANYDAY range.
- Decorating a rental can be difficult. Innovative products such as decorative vinyl to stick over surfaces, damage-free picture hanging and storage accessories from 3M, temporary decking from Ikea and peel and stick temporary wallpaper.
- With the rising cost of living, budgets for DIY will shrink. To avoid the financial outlay of big purchases such as furniture, rental products and services offered may soon be available in store. (Concepts similar to Fat Llama or Library of Things launched at Ikea, Switch Rentals, Instant Home, or Monty). Rental furniture is predicted to increase in popularity, as an alternative to finance options (John Lewis announced they would be renting out furniture after a successful trial but this has not materialised yet)
- Rental services for people and tasks (similar to Airtasker or TaskRabbit similar to what Ikea have on offer to weave design services into their product offering).
Sustainable living is a realistic priority:
- The circular economy and reducing environmental impact, encouraged through a buyback scheme like Ikea circular hub or Dunelms textile recycling, or even Fix It cafes encouraging consumers to repair old items rather than throw them away – these could all be cost-saving options for those with smaller budgets, too.
- Home design and furniture products made from recycled or green materials: chipboard made from potato peel, insulation made from mushrooms, repurposed plastic or corrugated cardboard furniture and zero carbon cement. DIY retailers such as Kingfisher are shifting their focus to sustainability from supply chain through to product.
Love to re-style or make a house your home? It’s easier than ever:
- There are many apps to help you imagine/redesign space. But what if this was a service offered by DIY stores? Currently Amazon offers an AR visualisation option, and Ikea have ramped this up with a 3D imagined designed service.
So what are the DIY trends and home improvement customers of the future?
Innovation and human-centred design can help companies to stay close to their customers and evolve with them. We identified seven key trends, imagined what a future DIY home improvement customer may need and want, and explored the relevant products and services to suit their needs.
Companies that are led by what customers want will always stay ahead, they evolve as their customers change. At Magnetic the opportunity we see is to build on this understanding to create and develop the products and services customers want next – designing a better future for them today.
If you’d like to find out more about our work, get in touch with Lucy Willett or drop us a line.
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