May 28, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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'Service is more focused than ever in our industry'

'Service is more focused than ever in our industry'

The value of the DIY sector in North America has grown by 18.9 percent in a year. Europe and Belgium are particularly underperforming. This is evident from the figures shared with industry association HIMA Trends. “The concept of service is deeply rooted in America, which means that artisans receive excellent support,” says Piet De Coninck, managing director of HIMA.

Even though the corona virus and lockdowns have left us behind, we continue to enjoy DIY. This is evident from the most recent statistics of turnover growth in the DIY industry, the figures for the year 2022. The global sector was valued at 696.6 billion euros, an increase of 10.4 percent. Growth varies across the world. In North America, turnover in the artisan sector grew by 18.9 percent, with Europe lagging behind with 6.3 percent growth.

Our country is one of the weakest producers in DIY. In Belgium, turnover increased by 3.1 percent. Our northern neighbors fared better with 8.5 percent annual growth. If you look at what an average family spends on odd jobs per year, the differences are minimal. Belgians spend an average of 812 euros a year and the Dutch 929 euros.

Wooden houses

This big difference between North America and Europe can be explained in a number of ways, says Piet De Coninck, executive director of the Home Improvement Manufacturers Association (HIMA). “This is often culturally determined. The US is very commercial and it is worth noting that DIY stores there sell a wide range of products. Compared to our market, they combine their activities more with the sale of bathrooms, kitchens, white goods and construction activities.

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“In America, on average, people live mostly in log houses,” de Koninck says. “They are more suitable for odd jobs than our brick houses. Plus, people move more often on average, while we are more inclined to invest in a house once and renovate it.”

Service focal point

“The American can take better care of himself,” he continues. “The concept of service is really deep-rooted, which means artisans get better support. The customer is at the center and makes him a self-reliant craftsman who can handle more tasks automatically.

In the context of climate objectives, the government encourages energy renewal with premiums, but Belgians still have an aversion to renewal. According to a study by BNP Paribas Fortis, written by Trends, one in two Belgians does not want to know about it. “Belgium is a knowledge economy, so fewer young people come into contact with crafts,” Piet De Conink adds. “I'm not saying that young people can't be motivated to do odd jobs, but they need extra motivation.”

The head of HIMA notes that the Belgian DIY sector understands that message. “I recently attended a presentation by Erwin van Osta, head of DIY chain Hubo. He proposed his 'Hubo as a Service' strategy. The chain understands more than ever the importance of service in stores and outside. Service is more focused than ever in this industry. An important but challenging part of this is for employees. Practice.

TikTok

To reach young people, according to Piet De Coninck, it is important for DIY companies to be active on platforms where young people can be seen. He mentions social media, specifically video apps like YouTube and TikTok. On the one hand, young people are used to using those sites, but with DIY, the instructional video works well. “There's also a potential revenue model. Look at Dobbit, which has been making DIY videos for a long time: many of them sponsored by suppliers. This kind of video content is very attractive to suppliers of DIY products because customers benefit from seeing the actual uses of their products.

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Another example of artisans giving and receiving support is the Maakfabriek, according to de Koninck. It's a machine-filled Antwerp workshop where craftsmen share rental costs to save money. This should reduce the barrier to doing odd jobs. The artisans each work on their own projects, but an important part of the project is that they can learn from each other.

One message that HIMA wants to convey is that doing odd jobs is definitely not a necessary evil. “It's satisfying. You get to work directly for people you love and make them happy. With the do-it-yourself industry, that's also a big achievement, giving more confidence and motivation to artisans.