Search & Audience Trends in Home Appliances, DIY, and Furniture
As the housing market continues to thrive in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, competition among home goods retailers has become more intense.
Young people are taking longer to purchase homes, but a Home Depot study actually found that 57% of Millennial renters see home ownership as an important goal, compared to only 38% of Gen X and 34% of Boomers. These up-and-coming home owners are reshaping the Home & Garden industry by taking an active part in home decoration and repair, and by demanding seamless retail experiences, online and off. A few key industry stats:
• The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts Millennials will form 23 million new households in the next 10 years — many of them will afford homes by buying “fixer uppers.”
• Furniture Today reports that US furniture sales will reach $122 billion by 2020 over the next five years.
• 58% of appliance purchasers made one or some of their purchases online according to PWC.
The Rise in Paid Traffic
As home ownership and consumer spending increases, we see online search competition intensifying. Three of the four major Home & Garden categories — Furniture, Appliances, DIY and Garden — saw clicks from paid searches overtake clicks from organic searches in the last year. Even DIY, which maintains a slight organic lead, is closing in.
In this report, we’ll dig deeper into search trends, key audiences and the competitive landscape that shapes each of these Home & Garden categories.
A 2014 Furniture Today survey found that within two short years, Millennials’ share of US furniture spending doubled from $11 billion to $27 billion, which propelled this age group—particularly young women—to the center of many retailers’ strategies.
Since then, the furniture industry has been transformed by e-commerce brands like Wayfair and Overstock. The FBIC Centre on Global Retailing predicts the furniture market will grow to $111 Billion in 2019, and e-commerce will continue to play a large role in that growth.
In the prior section, we saw that paid clicks overtook organic for funiture searches, suggesting a more fiercely competitive e-commerce environment within the furniture sector.
As summer approaches, we see fans rise in popularity. Searches around bedroom products also shot up within the month of May, including smaller products (like bed covers) and big-ticket items (mattresses, beds).
When we look at the websites pulling the largest percentage of clicks from furniture searches, Wayfair and Amazon emerge in the lead. All five top sites have increased their share of search clicks from 2016 to 2017, with Amazon showing the most growth since last year.
All top five furniture players pulled over half their traffic from paid search this year, up dramatically from 2016. It appears that paid search has become the most pivotal channel for staying competitive in furniture sales.
Home Repair & DIY
As real estate rebounds, The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies predicts that the share of Millennials homeowners will rise to 35% this year. Because home ownership in the US remains costly due to inflation and gentrification, many Millennials are opting to purchase and revive “fixer-uppers.” The Joint Centre predicts that within a decade, owners under 35 will represent nearly all of the new growth in home improvement industry spending.
DIY audiences who are seeking to paint, re-floor and tile their homes lie predominantly between Millennials and Gen X, and many of them are parents. These do-it-yourselfers lean heavily on the internet to research, purchase and plan their home repair.
Interestingly, DIY and home repair searches have remained fairly stagnant over the last two years. This is the only Home & Garden category where organic search still drives most of the traffic, thanks in part to how-to content and Youtube. It’s worth noting, however, that paid clicks will likely overtake organic within the next year, as paid clicks were up 85% this May compared to the same period last year.
Fast-rising DIY searches during the month of May included saw and router bits, power washers, and most predominantly wallpaper. In fact, the DIY audience is 3,773% more likely than the average American to search for wallpaper.
Unlike other Home & Garden categories, the third downstream website for DIY searches is Youtube, which hosts popular home repair vlogs and channels. This could also be the result of tabswitching; as consumers research tools and DIY products, they simultaneously look up how to use and install them.
Home Depot pulls the most overall clicks, but also spends relatively less on paid search than other websites, such as Build and BuildDirect (which rely solely on e-commerce). Youtube’s traffic remains almost wholly organic.
According to PwC, most consumers (59%) still purchase their appliances at brick-and-mortar locations rather than online (29%) — however, this gap creeps closer every year. This group is represented by slightly more women, mostly Gen X and environmentalists who are willing to pay more for green products.
We see several peaks for appliance searches throughout the year, both during the summer and (to a lesser extent) during the holidays.
Fast-rising appliance searches in the month of May include summerspecific products, such as grills and portable air conditioners.
Although it’s not perceived as the go-to site for home appliances, Amazon pulls the majority of clicks from appliance searches. Best Buy and Walmart saw an even larger jump in clicks this year compared to last.
As with furniture, paid clicks surpassed organic for all five major appliance players in 2017, suggesting search has become an integral part of appliance purchasing — even in cases when it remains part of a multi-touch journey.
Consumers searching for gardening supplies represent a wide range of ages, and the two most engaged segments are both older Millennial and Boomer women.
Growing cultural interest in environmentalism and nutrition has sparked a revolution in home gardening; as the National Gardening Survey reported, five of the six million consumers who started gardening in 2015 were Millennials. Many of these young gardeners turn to social media to help fuel their inspiration.
There is always growth in garden searches leading up to summer; this May, terms around outdoor furniture and garden care have jumped. Another popular term which doesn’t quite fall under garden products is “tiny houses.” Garden searchers are 5,374% more likely to search for tiny houses than average, although its unclear whether it’s for living in or sheer curiosity.
Similarly to the furniture industry, we see Amazon dominating downstream traffic for garden product searches.
Amazon also more than doubled their paid clicks since May of last year. Their organic rate (along with Walmart’s) remains higher than niche brands like Wayfair and Hayneedle. This suggests broader retailers may have an organic leg-up against more specific brands.
Paid search now defines and drives the majority of traffic to the Home & Garden industry. Some DIY and home repair searches still drive organic traffic (particularly to YouTube), but this lingering gap between paid and organic will likely close within the year.
Tracking fast-rising terms in the lead up to summer can allow retailers to get ahead of their competitors in anticipating summer purchase behavior.
As more Millennials become home-owners, they will continue to redefine Home & Garden. Millennials seek greater autonomy in shaping their home environment (redesigning their space, handling home repair, personal gardening), and expect a supportive multi-channel shopping experience to help them achieve that. As Millennials purchase property, understanding and serving their personal goals will be crucial for retailers.