If the onset of the pandemic is credited with heightening the “do-it-yourself” (DIY) movement, consumers’ growing adjustment to our “new normal” and a strong housing market indicate that 2022 will be the year of “do-it-for-me” (DIFM) movement. As such, we can anticipate a higher demand in Pro painters, remodelers and other skilled tradesmen to assist with DIFM projects in the upcoming year.
Vinny O’Sullivan, senior general manager, U.S. stores and The Home Depot organization, for PPG Architectural Coatings business in the U.S. and Canada, provided a unique perspective on the rising DIFM movement and PPG’s partnership with pro painters in PCI’s recent interview with him below.
PCI: The pandemic is credited with heightening the “do-it-yourself” (DIY) movement. Is this movement still going strong?
O’Sullivan: PPG thinks that 2022 can be considered the year of “do-it-for-me” (DIFM) projects, as consumers’ adjustment to the “new normal” brought on by the pandemic, coupled with a strong housing market, indicate a shift away from the DIY trend toward a stronger desire to hire pro painters, remodelers and other skilled tradesmen to assist with home improvement projects this year.
PCI: Do you anticipate a higher demand for professional painters, remodelers, and other skilled tradesmen to assist with DIFM projects in the upcoming year?
O’Sullivan: Yes. Given the current strength of the housing market, homes are more valuable and there are deep backlogs of requests for the services pros offer. In fact, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), nearly 50% of homeowners are indicating that it is a good time to start a home improvement project. As a result, “around the home” purchases are seen as the top priority for incremental spending by U.S. home and property owners who view home improvement as a smart investment given the rise of property values over the last two years, per the Cleveland Research Company. And, many customers are saying “homes are too expensive, so I have to buy what I can afford,” which leads to more remodeling.
PCI: Do you see the DIFM trend expanding beyond 2022?
O’Sullivan: PPG sees this trend extending beyond 2022 for two main reasons. First, we expect home improvement industry supply constraints to begin improving, which will make it easier for pros to access the materials needed. The housing market is expected to remain strong with climbing prices causing many to consider home improvement projects to either take advantage of the market by selling, or repairing a current living space as purchasing a new home may not be an affordable option.
Second, the pandemic caused a reverse urbanization across the country, as countless millennials and younger generations entered the hot home buying market earlier than expected. Making up nearly one-third of home purchases, millennials are cashing out of renting in hopes of securing more legroom by buying. That’s good news for pros and the DIFM trend, as across generations, millennials are the most active in hiring out for assistance with home improvement and maintenance projects. This generation is poised to take on a large number of projects, resulting in greater overall home improvement spending. Millennials also account for a large balance of high-cost projects, which drives up their average per-project expenditures.
PCI: Does PPG partner with professional painters, and if so, how?
O’Sullivan: PPG has been the trusted partner of the pro painter for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. We continue to evolve with, and oftentimes ahead of the industry, meeting pro painter needs through product innovations, such as PPG COPPER ARMORTM, the first virus-killing paint in the U.S.; and HOMAX TEX>>PROTM, a proprietary texture sprayer and cartridge system that makes the job of spraying texture on interior walls and ceilings faster, lighter and more cost-effective. Additionally, a leader in the digital evolution of the paint industry, as well as a retail partner to The Home Depot nationally and dealer networks on a regional and local level, PPG offers pros the right product, to the right place, at the right time.
PCI: How is the professional painting industry evolving and how is PPG preparing painters for the change?
O’Sullivan: The paint industry, like many others, has reached a pivotal moment amidst the COVID pandemic where customers are becoming increasingly comfortable with – and are beginning to expect – using sophisticated digital tools to purchase goods. This expected experience includes access to easy-to-navigate ecommerce platforms and seamless pick-up and delivery options. As the trusted partner for the Pro painter, PPG is leading the digital evolution of the paint industry with digital tools that increase efficiency and cost savings for customers by offering the right product, to the right place, at the right time.
PCI: How are consumer behaviors evolving and how is that impacting DIFM demand?
O’Sullivan: The pandemic has presented numerous challenges to homeowners and the home improvement industry by causing temporary delays to some projects and cancellation of others altogether. In the long run, however, the pandemic may have turned homeowners’ focus more inward toward their own residences, driving them to “nest” and to strive to make their houses more comfortable and safer. Projects that had been out of scope prior to the pandemic have been brought to the forefront for many as society becomes more adept at navigating COVID-19. Now, as many pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted, homeowners are ready to begin projects that may have been temporarily delayed as a result of the pandemic.
The current strength of the housing market has also affected consumer behavior in terms of home improvement as high home prices have made buying a new home too expensive. Thus, home improvement spending is healthy and will remain so as long as housing prices remain strong.