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Main drivers and barriers for a home improvement project

By knowing the main drivers and barriers for home improvement jobs, manufacturers and retailers can determine their actions and strategies in order to expand the total market. Some retailers claim it is mainly price that is keeping consumers from doing more home improvement jobs. This is partly true, price is an important barrier. However, it will always be the case that most consumers will need to save money first before conducting a large home improvement project. When looking at other barriers and the key drivers we see several opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to increase the total market. These insights are based on a quantitative European market study among consumers (European Home Improvement Monitor).

Aesthetics and comfort are driving the home improvement project

Almost half of the European consumers have changes in life circumstances leading to a large home improvement job, such as moving into a new home, aging, retirement, having a baby or physical mobility. The larger home improvement projects that are following these changes are a home extension, installation of a new bathroom or kitchen, or a complete renovation of the house.

Focusing on the consumers that are moving into a new home can be beneficial, as these consumers will often do a home improvement project. Nevertheless, the group of consumers conducting home improvement projects without a change in life circumstances is even bigger and are therefore conducting more projects. The big similarity is that for both these groups, aesthetics is the most important driver for the home improvement jobs, followed by increasing the level of comfort (see figure 1; Main Drivers for the project).

However, there are some striking differences between the European countries. For example, in Sweden (28%) and Denmark (28%) the most important driver is maintenance of their houses. This is caused by the fact that more wood is used in the construction of the houses, which in combination of their climate leads to a higher maintenance frequency.

Taking away the barriers

Over half of the European consumers experience barriers when starting their home improvement project, with limited budget as their main barrier. This barrier will always be around, since most consumers need to save money first before starting a larger home improvement project. One could argue that this makes consumers more price sensitive and that consumers can be convinced to undertake home improvement jobs if DIY retailers are able to offer low prices. However, the total sum of a large home improvement project also consists of labour costs of a professional. In most cases, this is roughly 50% of the total costs of a project and these labour costs will not decline by a lower price of the products. A large home improvement project will thus always be a large expenditure where consumers need to save money for. It might thus be more interesting to lower the non-cost related barriers. For example, DIY retailers could help consumers to find a reliable professional, find ways to make the jobs easier and less time consuming. And last but not least, help them with the designs.

When both DIY retailers and manufacturers work together to break down the non-cost related barriers the European consumers are facing, the home improvement pie should grow as more jobs will be conducted. Some of the retailers and manufacturers are already trying to do so, by offering installation services to overcome the difficulty that consumers face in finding the right professional. Others are trying to take away the barrier “lack of time” through offering “plug & play” solutions, such as offering consumers one box of safety products to secure their entire home. Next to this, showing the ease of installation and the limited amount of time it takes in a video can be beneficial in motivating consumers to no longer postpone the job.


The main drivers for the larger European home improvement jobs are aesthetics and increasing comfort.

Limited budget is the most important barrier of the larger home improvement jobs. However, there is not too much a retailer or manufacturer can do about this. It is therefore more important to look at the barriers such as limited time or problems with finding a professional, as these barriers can be taken away by manufacturers and retailers.

Growing the home improvement pie is not an impossible task, but it cannot be done by only offering the lowest possible prices. Manufacturers and retailers have to collaborate more upfront on supporting the drivers and taking away the barriers of home improvement projects as well.