More than eight years of continuous research on the European home improvement market has provided us detailed insights on how overarching trends, for instance the ageing of the European population, influence DIY behaviour. Meanwhile, we have gathered substantial knowledge on the influence of sudden disruptive events like a pandemic on consumers’ home improvement jobs.

One topic that beautifully illustrates the interplay of both trends and events is the tension between Do It Yourself (DIY) and Do It For Me (DIFM), between consumers performing home improvement jobs themselves and the ones outsourcing these jobs to other parties. Knowledge of consumers’ DIY behaviour is essential for the success of strategies of manufacturers and brands of home improvement products.

That is why DIY vs DIFM is a recurring theme of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Home Improvement Monitor, and the focus of the Q4 2021 report, for which we interviewed 6.800 consumers from 11 countries on how they do or get their home improvement jobs done.

The trend toward more DIY is persisting

In the first years of our research, from 2013 until 2018, we saw a slow but steady trend from DIY to DIFM. Year by year, the share of consumers doing the home improvement jobs themselves declined, while the share of outsourced home improvement jobs grew. The main reasons for this trend toward more DIFM are related to generational changes and differences.

On the one hand, the European population is ageing and consumers who were used to doing home improvement jobs themselves may be less inclined to climb the stairs and pick up the hammer as they get older. Meanwhile, younger generations of consumers seemed less interested and less skilled than the older generation. Add the two together and the result is fewer home improvement jobs done by themselves and more outsourcing.

As the above graph shows, the trend towards more DIFM has turned around somewhere after 2018. From 2019 onwards, the share of DIFM jobs has gradually declined while DIY is on the rise. Our most recent measurements show that this trend persisted in 2021 as well. The question is: why this turnaround?

Labour and pandemic

In recent years, we have seen labour shortages increase in the construction and installation sectors in many European countries. Increasing labour shortages make it harder to find a professional to outsource home improvement jobs to and drive up the costs of that labour as well. As a result, more consumers choose to do the jobs themselves, which is visible in the above graph from 2018 onwards.

Aside from the effect of trends like gradually increasing labour shortages and costs, the sudden effect of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns has rocked the boat of home improvement and influenced DIY shares in several ways. As the pandemic raged, people were reluctant to receive professionals into their house, which led many to cancel or postpone larger home improvement jobs that needed the involvement of a professional.

Meanwhile, due to lockdowns, people spent more time at home and could allocate budget that would otherwise be spent in restaurants or on holidays to home improvement. This led to an increase of home improvement jobs in general. Since people had more time on their hands that would otherwise be spent on commuting to work, for instance, they more often picked up the paintbrush or hammer themselves, resulting in more DIY as opposed to DIFM.

Will this trend last?

The above shows how the interplay between overarching trends and sudden disruptive events influence the home improvement market by disturbing the balance between DIY and DIFM. The question remains whether DIY shares will continue to increase.

The unpredictability of sudden events like the pandemic can make it hard to predict whether this will be the case. However, over two years of pandemic, many unexperienced people attempted DIY and saw that DIY is doable even without much experience. With that in mind and some DIY experience gained, the choice to keep doing home improvement jobs yourself is an easy one. Meanwhile, trends like increasing labour shortages and costs will keep pushing people towards the DIY side as well.

Of course, the severity of labour shortages differs per area, as do demographics. For manufacturers and brands of home improvement products, attention to local details is important when developing strategies for their specific areas of operation. For details of consumers’ DIY behaviour in 11 European countries, we refer you to the Q4 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Home Improvement Monitor. 

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