Professor’s research finds renovation marketing impacts homeowner decisions


Gordon R. Wenzel

Photo courtesy of Gordon R. Wenzel.

Bridgette Simpson, News Editor

If you love HGTV as much as the next person, you’ve played into the marketing trends that influence consumer trends in the realm of home improvement.

Home improvement magazines also play into the alteration of household aesthetic that seems to be occurring in recent years. 

Professor Annetta Grant of Markets, Innovation & Design conducted in-depth interviews as the keystone of her research on home improvement trends and decisions. Most of those interviewed revealed insecurities about some part of their home, despite the actual probability of guests even seeing the area.

The insecurities of homeowners only further drive their buying choices when remodeling their homes, Grant found. The pandemic and work-from-home culture has also increased homeowner anxiety about their home being “camera-ready”. During and after the pandemic, people are seeing their friends’ and coworkers’ homes either remotely or in person for what could be the first time, and Grant’s research hones in on the analysis of how this affects people’s motivation to renovate their homes, as well as how societal expectations affect consumer trends. She also inspected how people often overstep their financial thresholds in order to satisfy their expectations of what their home should look like. 

According to a University press release, the U.S. Home Remodeling Market Report determined that Americans spent $340 billion on home renovation in the year 2020, and is projected to grow by four percent by the year 2027. Grant’s research, co-written with Queen’s University professor Jay Handelman, manifested first in interviewing 17 homeowners and four service providers over the span of 2.5 years. 

From their conversations, they gleaned that it would be especially difficult in the current housing climate to maintain a home that fits a family or person’s personality and personal vision. It has been observed that home trends are conforming to fit some common recent design tendencies, such as “industrial-grade appliances, large kitchen islands with bar stools, open floor plans, neutral color schemes and spa-like bathrooms,” according to the press release. 

The pressure homeowners feel to maintain their home decor at the level of professionalism these new design trends command results in a relatively constant desire to continuously update and renovate their homes. This predicament is only exacerbated by those who are market-influenced, Grant and Handelman found. 

“Uniqueness is shunned while professional expertise and market standards are celebrated,” Grant said in a press release. “It is a common feature of home renovation television shows for homeowners to be ridiculed by expert hosts when aspects of their homes fall short of modern trends.” 

Grant and Handelman concluded in their study, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, that enterprises can aid consumers with the widespread uneasiness many feel towards maintaining the upkeep of their home decor and furnishings. 

“They could, for example, create platforms—a physical retail setting or an online forum—where consumers’ expression of uniqueness is celebrated rather than admonished. Based on the positive experience of place consumers have in these forums, firms that align their offerings with celebrations of uniqueness may find greater market opportunity for their products and services,” Grant said. 

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