12 Things to Know About Home Improvement Right Now

Want to stay ahead of the curve in the home improvement industry? Sometimes, spending a few days with like-minded industry pros and peers is the best way to succeed.

Industry leaders from across the country gathered at the HIRI 2017 Insights Conference in Chicago. The event, hosted annually by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), featured speakers from Harvard University, HomeAdvisor, J.D. Power and Associates, Kantar Retail, Nielsen and more.

“This year’s HIRI conference reminded me that this industry is chock-full of smart, interesting people,” said Leslie Gillock, vice president and director of insights at Wray Ward. “Events that bring us all together to exchange ideas are crucial for continued success.”

Here are 12 home improvement industry insights speakers shared at this year’s conference:


  1. The housing market forecast calls for sun with a few stray clouds. Despite day-to-day changes, economic factors and housing fundamentals driving the housing market are generally positive and steadily growing. But while homebuilding is on the rise, it still isn’t near previous peaks.
  2. Online household buyers are more brand agnostic than in-store shoppers. Online shopping tends to be needs-based rather than brand-based. For online shoppers, it’s about convenience and speed.
  3. Technology can enable brand choice. Technologies like Alexa know what brands users purchased in the past and use that information for future reference. This makes for a smoother shopping experience that doesn’t require significant thought on the part of the consumer.
  4. Connected spenders shop differently than traditional retail spenders. Technology is changing the way consumers shop, and connected spenders are driving consumer trends. They’re plugged in and ready to spend money. Millennials are at the forefront, and they’re numerous: by the end of 2017, they will have formed 8.3 million new households.
  5. Companies should focus on the consumer experience across channels. Consumers interact with brands and retailers across numerous platforms. Now, the in-store shopping experience and user experience are equally important, and consumers expect their experiences to be exceptional and increasingly more connected.
  6. Product and retailer satisfaction is influenced by relationships. Satisfaction is significantly higher among consumers who get recommendations from pros, family and friends.
  7. Satisfaction reflects on the brand and the retailer. Consumers tend to view brands and the retailers that sell them as one and the same, so poor product satisfaction can negatively affect a retailer and vice versa.
  8. Luxury home improvement is slow to grow. The rest of the housing market is appreciating faster than the luxury home market, but luxury manufacturers still have an opportunity to target aspirational home improvement consumers who are one tier lower on the income ladder.
  9. Meet the fragmented consumer. Nearly 55 percent of millennials said they’re overwhelmed by the amount of information targeted at them every day. This feeling has led to a fragmented consumer who will spend hours binge-watching the latest Netflix show but has a short attention span elsewhere. Successful brands are simplifying their messaging to stay in front of distracted prospects.
  10. Smart technology is growing organically. The number of homes with connected devices is growing. Remodelers who incorporated smart technology into the job reported being more satisfied with their remodel than those who didn’t. And if smart technology also helps mitigate loss, insurance companies will back it. For example, Nest will turn off the HVAC fan if it detects smoke in the home.
  11. Universal design is important. While surveys report that universal access isn’t at the top of the repair and remodel list, actual remodels show different results. Bathrooms represent one of the main project areas, and space upgrades often include features like walk-in showers, lever handles, connected lighting, etc.
  12. Specific projects coincide with homeowner age. While most projects don’t correlate with a homeowner’s age, some are more likely depending on a homeowner’s stage in life. For the younger segment, lawn and trendy projects like home automation are happening more than kitchen and bath updates. Meanwhile, people in the 55-plus group are more likely to undertake roofing, exterior paint and deck projects.


Did you attend the HIRI Insights Conference this year? If so, what did you like most about the event? What would you change? We want to hear from you.Share Feedback

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