More About This Episode
The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
This week, Zach and Beth talk with Grant Farnsworth, president of The Farnsworth Group, about some of the key takeaways and surprises from the recent pair of 2021 Building Products Customer Guide: Audience Breakdown webinars. Plus, the trio discusses the following hot topics: the future of the DIYer, channel conflict and which brands are winning customers.
If you missed the audience breakdown webinars, you can still access the recordings and download all five infographics with exclusive insights, visit venveo.com/audiences.
A Data-Driven Approach To Creating a Marketing Strategy That Works
The Farnsworth Group is an established market research firm whose projects focus on the building materials customer. “We are the leading primary research firm for the building products, home improvement, lawn and ranch spaces,” says Grant.
The Farnsworth Group has more than 30 years of industry experience, and they help companies and professionals in the construction industry make marketing and strategy decisions to better sell their products. “So any questions about getting a deeper insight to your customer, your brand or product, we'd be happy to help have those conversations and then develop a scope of work for you,” says Grant.
Grant and his team also offer a few free resources for the construction industry, like the COVID Tracker they launched when last year’s pandemic hit (and drastically changed the economy). The Tracker delivers regular reporting on how DIYers and professionals were spending money on construction projects.
Venveo partnered with The Farnsworth Group to introduce the 2021 Building Products Customer Guide last year. The Guide delivered the results from a research survey that gathered data on almost 2,000 builders, architects, designers, installers, contractors and DIYers.
We partnered together again this year to hold two in-depth audience-specific webinars that covered industry insights and discussed what manufacturers and suppliers can expect from their customers in this next year.
What Customers Want & Expect From Manufacturers When Buying Products
Venveo and The Farnsworth Group have to start to see some trends emerge when it comes to construction projects and building materials purchase behavior. Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinars, plus some new insights from Zach, Beth and Grant.
COVID forced a lot of us to buy more of the products we love online, but now that stores are resuming regular hours, there’s a bigger need than ever for brands to have more seamless messaging. In other words, what you say on your website and social media needs to match what’s going on in the shopping aisle.
“And I think what's critical to understand is that the brick and mortar isn't dead, and despite us maybe talking a lot about digital and the growth of digital and the acceleration, the store isn't dead,” Grant says. “It's going to continue to be important, but it's how do we utilize that in-store experience? How do we utilize brick and mortar to support everything else that's going on with digital?”
“You can't take for granted the individual ways that people might be looking into you,” explains Beth.
Trying New Brands
One of the biggest surprises from the research that Venveo and The Farnsworth Group found was that a lot of professionals in the industry tried a new brand or product during the COVID pandemic: “Anywhere between 25% and 35% of pros tried a new brand of building product they had never touched before,” explains Grant.
Digital marketing has had an impact on how these professionals are purchasing new products — they’re looking around online for what might be in stock. And, as Grant explains, “The theme of availability is really connected throughout, whether we're talking about channel behaviors, brand behaviors, online behaviors.”
Everyone’s been acutely aware that there’s a shortage of product supply and labor in the industry right now. “And it's already had a dramatic impact on what people are buying, where they're buying it,” explains Grant.
The Future of DIYers
The Farnsworth Group has reported a growing trend of DIY projects since the beginning of the pandemic. Not just because of pricing, but also because people weren’t inviting a lot of visitors into their homes. And many homeowners just spent more time around the house.
“They had the time, they didn't want people in their homes, disposable income shifted greatly. So I'm not going out, I'm not traveling, I've got this money. I can spend it on my home,” explains Grant. “So I think as we ‘return to normal,’ which is a terrible thing to say, but as we feel more comfortable and we go out and go back to experiences and entertainment, etc., that disposable income is going to shift.”
We asked what he thought about the future of DIY, once we start moving forward from the pandemic. “So I think we'll level off on DIY,” explains Grant. Some of the jobs that homeowners held off on — like a new home layout or an upgrade in their HVAC system — will then go to the contractors and installers.
“So we're seeing bigger projects come online from contractors than we have the last few years. We're seeing better closure rates with contractors. We're seeing more project requests come in over these last few months than early last year. So I think things are trending in the right direction certainly on the contractor side,” Grant explains.
Although DIY activity is leveling out, online searches for products are still sky-high. “People are going online even more,” says Zach. For lawn and garden products, the searches are still trending, especially with temperatures warming up. “I don't see people spending less money outside. If anything, they're going to spend more,” he says.
“And in fact, if you look at the retail sales data for home improvements, hardware, lawn and garden, January and February are up year over year,” adds Grant. “And we're actually going into March with metrics that would indicate March is actually going to be better than last year.” In other words, DIYers aren’t going to stop their projects any time soon, because their product searches haven’t slowed down.
“I feel like DIYers just doubled down and they're like, ‘Not only am I not going to go anywhere, I'd also like your installation guide on steel siding, please,’” says Beth.
Streamlined eCommerce Experiences
The pandemic forced a lot of businesses to go online, regardless of industry. From virtual concerts to grocery delivery to car purchases, many companies amped up the online experience so that they could sell to customers digitally.
“A lot of us have had that same experience with building materials and home improvement products and how we go about getting them,” says Grant. For manufacturers, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure your customers can get your products when and how they want them, whether that’s on your website, in the store or on a mobile app.
Otherwise, they’re going to find another way to buy the product they need. “You're missing out on brand loyalty opportunities, you're missing out on lifetime conversion opportunities,” explains Beth.
“I think the retail space, the pro channel space, as well as the manufacturers are now having to figure out a way to come together, share some power so that they can meet these customers in a way that they want it,” says Grant, “We have every outlet covered. We have every content piece covered because we have to be in all these places. So I think there's a real, tremendous opportunity.”
Winning With Customers
There were a few big names that stood out for us during the pandemic when it comes to delivering products. “If I think food, I think DoorDash — they were the clear winner from the pandemic. If I need a car tomorrow — it's Carvana, right? If I want to buy some eCommerce — it's Amazon,” explains Zach.
All of those brands signify convenience. But for building products, there are still a lot of people investing in and trying to innovate in that space.
“Somebody is going to win that. I don't know who it's going to be,” says Zach. The industry has been unpredictable … but that makes this a time of fresh starts for everyone.
”And so if you want to win, if you want to be the brand of choice, it's no longer just about your product. It's about the promise around your product that's going to define you. What do I mean by that? It's service, it's ease, it's support, it's the experience,” Zach explains.
Want Even More Insights?
Building materials brands have a host of challenges ahead of them right now, but that makes it a great time to revisit your products, your value proposition and how you’re selling to customers.
Because customers aren’t buying like they used to. Price and quality are still important, but Grant points out that there are other elements and features that customers will be looking for. “Your value proposition now has to incorporate some other elements, whether it's service or support or whatever the case may be, that's now got to be baked in beyond just quality and pricing,” says Grant.
The key is listening to what your customers want, and connecting with them where they’re at — whether that’s on your website, Instagram page or in the aisle.
Today’s the perfect time to start refreshing your strategy. To get access to the recordings of both audience breakdown webinars and download all five infographics with exclusive insights, visit venveo.com/audiences.
You can visit The Farnsworth Group on their website to get more resources and data on the building materials industry or reach out to them at [email protected] to start building out your data-driven marketing strategy and reaching more customers.
Remember to check out the full episode of this podcast for more details and great conversation. You can also get access to the full 2021 Building Product Customer Guide at venveo.com/2021.