BHETA comment: Is it DIY, upcycling or home improvement?

DIY, home improvement, repurposing, upcycling…Paul Grinsell, BHETA’s Home Enhancement Director, discusses how new markets are not just to be found overseas…

The DIY market has long been a target for suppliers of tools as well as all the many associated consumables. So, it is good news that 60% of delegates at this year’s Global DIY Summit declared themselves positive about the growth potential in the industry. Having said that, there is no room for complacency as none of the various growth forecasts I have seen so far have been exactly stratospheric! On the contrary, some have been very modest indeed, and while sales are still undoubtedly there, many industry players are having to work harder than ever to secure them. Recent reports from both B&Q and Bunnings illustrate the challenges.

Being proactive is therefore vital and some BHETA members see their most positive route forward as exporting – hence the formation of the BHETA export committee. But not all ‘new markets’ are overseas. One of the most challenging but also exciting is at home, where DIY is no longer called DIY, but ‘home improvement’ instead. Or even, repurposing or upcycling. Or even, perhaps most surprising of all, craft.

Which is why I am posing the question – can you talk the language? And are you exploring the implications and the opportunities it presents? Interestingly, ‘A New Era – A Glimpse into the Future of Home Improvement’ was the motto of the Global DIY Summit – ‘home improvement’, note, not ‘DIY’ in the context of where we are heading – and even a cursory glance at the websites of the leading mass market retailers reveals that they too have stopped speaking DIY. If the mass market is now all about home improvement whether performed by the consumer or the tradesperson, we all need to ensure our sales and marketing and indeed our product development reflects this.

So, does this mean that DIY is a dead language? The answer is a borderline ‘yes’ if we are talking about the mid-market, forty-plus consumer. Thankfully, DIY is still being spoken by a new generation – Generation DIY, in fact – and for the most part, they speak it online. Have a browse on Pinterest to see the massive number of times the acronym ‘DIY’ is mentioned – and the massive number of contexts in which it is used. If you haven’t reached it already, then the conclusion must be that if you still want to sell into DIY, then these are the options to explore – online marketing to consumers and targeting of younger audiences keen to boast about their upcycling and repurposing of furniture and other household goods. It is not too soon to be asking ourselves the following questions:

• When does a traditional DIY tool turn into a crafting implement?
• When do instructions for use turn into a video on YouTube?
• When does a fixing become a vital ingredient in an upcycling project?

It’s time to repurpose a significant chunk of our market.

BHETA, the British Home Enhancement Trade Association is an organisation for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors in the DIY, housewares, garden and home improvement markets. For more information about BHETA membership call 0121 237 1130.

Previous BHETA columns for Torque:

This article was originally published in the September 2017 edition of Torque Magazine. Read the full magazine online here or subscribe for free