Spotlight:Homing in on the DIY front

Research into the DIY market reveals a sector dominated by one player, with a single group of consumers – ‘heavy spenders’ – accounting for the lion’s share of expenditure. It is a market where product range, customer service and pricing all p

The Easter weekend traditionally marks the beginning of major activity in the home decorating market. Six weeks later, Marketing Week commissioned NOP to discover how the major chains are faring in their efforts to attract customers.

Participation and expenditure

Just over a third of all adults aged over 15-years-old in Great Britain have spent at least 5 on decorating products or tools since Easter. Most buyers – 95 per cent – have spent at least 10; 42 per cent have spent over 100. Involvement in the market peaks among 35 to 54-year-olds; there is no noticeable difference between social classes, and men and women are equally likely to participate.

“Heavy spenders” – people who have spent at least 100 in the past six weeks – account for a disproportionately high share of market value. Estimates based on the expenditure recorded in our research and the numbers of customers within each value category, indicate that these heavy spenders, who make up 42 per cent of DIY buyers, account for roughly three-quarters of claimed expenditure.

Thirty-five to 44-year-olds are the most likely to reach this level of purchase. The under 25s – who are less home-centred – and the over 55s, are the least likely. Women make up 60 per cent of heavy spenders, and CDEs two-thirds, although some of this may be trade purchases for small decorating and building businesses.

In spite of the widespread promotions targeted at them by the DIY chains, people who have moved house in the past year are no more likely to be heavy DIY spenders. The highest proportion, and the greatest number of heavy spenders, are found among people who have lived in their current home for more than ten years, perhaps reflecting their investment in an established and permanent base.

Advertising awareness for DIY stores

Spontaneous advertising awareness for the market is high; 88 per cent of recent buyers could name advertising for at least one store. B&Q’s recall was the highest, at 69 per cent; Texas and Do It All both have high awareness at 45 per cent and 29 per cent respectively. Wickes and Sainsbury Homebase are the only other outlets to be recalled by more than one in ten of buyers.

B&Q has particularly high awareness in the North, where more than three-quarters of DIY buyers recalled advertising for the company; Do It All and Homebase awareness is concentrated in the South and Midlands. B&Q has particularly high recall among C2s and Homebase among ABC1s. But heavy spenders are no more likely to recall advertising than other buyers.

Expenditure in stores

B&Q towers above the other stores in our survey. Half of all buyers in the total market claim to have spent more than 5 in its stores in the past month, nearly twice the customer base of its nearest rival, Texas. Do It All achieves 15 per cent purchase penetration, and there is a cluster of outlets with about ten per cent, including Homebase, Wickes and a significant independent sector.

Do It All and Homebase appeal more strongly to upmarket buyers, ABCls making up 67 per cent of Homebase customers. B&Q and Wickes have a particularly strong franchise among the C2s; this may reflect some professional buying, as these two stores are nearer to builders’ merchants in their stock and store environment.

Reasons for choice of DIY store

The most popular reason, given by four out of five respondents, for choosing a DIY store is the range of products available. Since most DIY shopping is a special expedition, not part of a normal shopping trip, consumers need to maximise choice in a single outlet, and the commensurate need for ample shelf space and wide product display explains the attraction of the out-of-town stores which our survey confirms.

Competitively low price was the second most widespread influence on choice of store. Recent home-movers, who tend to be working to a tighter budget, were more likely to give this reason. It is also more influential for DE and Northern respondents.

Stores’ own-label products have a similar and connected attraction, but with an important difference in consumer appeal. Upmarket buyers are more attracted by low prices than own-label ranges, indicating that they may be the more important target for branded product manufacturers.

This difference is supported by the interest shown in money-off or special offers, which tend to relate to promotions on branded lines, where upmarket buyers were more likely to have been influenced by special offers.

Heavy spenders are not particularly interested in own-label, low prices or special offers, indicating that they offer a high margin market, as well as the bulk of expenditure.

Customer service is a powerful motivator; nearly half the sample had chosen a store because of helpful staff who could offer advice and assistance. Slightly more women than men were swayed by the service aspect, and its influence rises through the age range, being lowest among the 15 to 24s and highest among the over 55s. This gives credence to B&Q’s advertised policy of employing experienced older staff. Heavy spenders are also the most likely to value the availability of advice, making this facility an important marketing feature.

Advertising plays a strong role in choice of store. Local newspaper advertisements, door-dropped leaflets and catalogues, national press and television advertising all influence about a quarter of recent buyers. However, advertising does not have an equal influence on all buyers.

The upper social grades are less likely than the downmarket to be influenced by any form of advertising. This skew is most pronounced for television, where only half as many ABCls as C2DEs admit being influenced, and least marked for local press advertising. Television is particularly strong for the 15 to 24-year-olds, with nearly a third of buyers in this age group choosing a store because of television advertising. The press, both local and national, has a stronger influence with the over 45s than younger age groups, who are a more valuable market.

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