Home improvement advertising: how to get through to DIY millennials

Paul HiebertData Journalist
July 08, 2016, 6:14 PM GMT+0

As Lowe's and Home Depot actively pursue younger customers through digital media, advertisers' best bet is to make creative spots that warm the heart

This past spring, the home improvement industry set its sights on young home improvers. In March, Lowe's launched an ad campaign intended for first-time homeowners called "Make Your Home Happy," which features talking lawn ornaments and refrigerator magnets. That same month, Home Depot's current CMO and president of online business told investors that this year the retail giant planned to spend more on targeted digital marketing than "traditional, old-school marketing." In April, the Wall Street Journal reported that Lowe's was also introducing fresh initiatives on both Facebook and Snapchat. The goal: appeal to millennials.

So, what do we know about young people interested in tackling their own home-improvement projects, such as renovating the kitchen or putting up shelves in the hallway? New data from YouGov Profiles shows that, when compared to their peers, DIY millennials consider themselves more emotionally intelligent, more bighearted, and more artistic. This suggests that a warm tone appealing to creativity will strike home.

In addition, 77% of 18-34 year olds who consider home improvement a hobby say they like seeing real people in commercials, compared to just 71% of others in the same age bracket. Furthermore, young DIYers have a greater appreciation for companies that stand behind a moral message.

Given all this, it makes sense that when Lowe's released a charming three-minute commercial on YouTube last April featuring two neighborhood kids falling in love under the watchful gaze of their human-like houses, the spot, titled "House Love," resonated with its intended audience. Indeed, data from YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks the public's perception of various brands across several industries, reveals that Lowe's experienced a notable bump in ad awareness among millennials in the weeks following the commercial's release.

Lowe's CMO, Marci Grebstein, described the spot as being about "emotional engagement" and appealing to young homeowners, who "want to understand the deeper meaning of what a company is trying to stand for." At present, the video has garnered over 18.4 million views.

According to a report from the Home Improvement Research Institute, home improvement product sales hit an estimated $319 billion in 2015, and are expected to grow 4.7% throughout 2016. Millennials are still more likely to rent their home than own it, but once they start buying retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot should expect their store aisles to get quite crowded.