This article in the Wall Street Journal by humorist, Dave Barry helped me see a new opportunity for big boxes. The opportunity is to circle back to the DIY market. Or rather to be at the forefront of the eventual shift back to DIY.
Because of the ease, speed and affordable cost, we all are having more things done for us. These are things that we used to do for ourselves. I’m amazed at how my wife calls a handyman for even the smallest of repairs.
About the only thing I am still allowed do is to change light bulbs and take out the trash.
When I tell her that I could have done it, she smiles and gives me that ‘sure you could’ honey look.
We men used to do it ourselves to save money and get a degree of self-satisfaction. It was also harder, in the past, to find people to do these tasks. There weren’t any regular maintenance services so you simply waited for things to break or wear out. You then looked at the situation and decided if you could fix it yourself or needed a pro.
As time progressed people started looking at the value of their time. Many of them would rather spend time with their family than a do it yourself project. They now saw the project as time taken away from other pursuits.
To answer this need many businesses appeared to handle these projects. Because they focused on a type of project, they were very efficient at it. This made the price easy to justify compared watching a kid’s baseball game.
Wayne Gretzky said, “You don’t want to be where the puck is, you want to be where the puck is going to be.”
I believe the puck is going to be back in the DIY market.
I don’t think it will be to save money. I think it will be that people will tire of living in their heads and online. I think out of boredom and a desire to have a skill other than computers will drive a renewed interest in DIY.
Men will want to be able to pick up a hammer and saw to make something. They will want to be able to fix something as a way to regain some of the masculinity they lost. Today they retain their masculinity through sports and physical exercise but that is getting so popular that men will start to look for new ways to be the man.
Big boxes can be at the front of this shift rather than to wait for it to happen. They can even speed it up a little. By promoting projects and skills training they can help DIY reach a new tipping point sooner. The right messaging poking fun at the helpless male would also raise attention to DIY.
Men like to buy things.
They used to like to buy tools. Now they buy electronics and gadgets. This will also wear out and tools could, once again, be desirable.
Building material manufacturers can also help by looking at their products, developing DIY ideas and proposing them to their big box customers.
What goes around, comes around and I think we are going to see DIY come around soon which means a big opportunity for Lowe’s and Home Depot.