Clicking Their Way to Home Improvement: How Consumers are using the web in home improvement projects

I think Macgyver is the ultimate handyman.  The way he is able to fix, create, or build whatever it is he needs under nearly any circumstances is amazing.

Most Americans don’t have Macgyver’s knowledge, capabilities, or writers- but what many of us do have is access to the Internet.  And when it comes to fixing, creating, or building, people are using it in record numbers.

Consider this:  In the last 2 years while many companies have seen their market shrinking, traffic to home improvement manufacturers (think:  Kohler, American Standard, Whirlpool, Armstrong, etc"¦) has grown 25%, up over 33% this year alone.  Compare that to the increase in traffic through the first 9 months of 2008, when traffic was up 13% and you can see that 2009 has really been a spring board for Americans to start using the web to help with all their home improvement projects.

To further illustrate the point, below is a trended graph showing traffic to Home Depot and Lowes over the last 2 years.  You will see traffic at roughly 8M UVs 2 years ago peaking at over 16M for Home Depot and over 14M for Lowes in May of this year. Site Comparison - vs.

And Companies are feeling the increased attention.  While budgets have been tightened in nearly all areas, advertising spend online continues to grow.

Change in total ad spend by marketing vehicle

So just what do these consumers want when they are visiting these various sites?  Typically here at Compete we would assess that by looking at all the web sites and analyzing which areas and categories of the sites most consumers go to, what they searched for, etc.  This time around we decided to behaviorally target a survey to visitors of the manufacturer sites and ask them about the purpose of their site visit.

Compete Survey Questions

There is no doubt that the Internet has brought forth the "Information Age" — and that is exactly what consumers are looking for: Information.  66% of the time consumers are looking to learn what other products exist and what other options they have available to them.

There is a race heating up as these manufacturers learn how to best capture the new consumer: The consumer who not only speaks with friends and family about the home project, but also goes online to help determine what he or she will do, buy, and build.  When asked how likely they would be to return to the manufacturer’s site if the project could involve their product, a whopping 88% said they would either be "likely" or "very likely" to return, making the Internet an important, and growing, battlefield for creating product loyalty and enhancing your brand health.