The generational shift taking place in recent years, together with recovering economies, has posed a threat to the home improvement industry in Western Europe which has seen players forced to find new ways to reach consumers. Led by mature markets and improving economic conditions, home improvement in Western Europe is able to record marginal positive growth but faces many challenges ahead.
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The Western European home improvement market continues to be dominated by Germany, due to its long-standing tradition for DIY. This has made it an attractive area of investment for companies, as a good reputation in Germany can help become one of the biggest players in Western Europe. In contrast, Southern European countries, which have faced slower economic recovery, are now witnessing much more dynamic growth.
The young adult population entering the home improvement environment lacks the necessary DIY skills to carry out major projects and generally prefers to outsource. The previous generation would have been taught these skills, but are now becoming part of a growing elderly demographic, thus less likely to carry out major projects. The shift in consumer behaviour is forcing manufacturers and retailers to evaluate new strategies to attract consumers.
The growth in power tools led by innovations in cordless tools, can be interpreted as a positive sign for the future of home improvement as younger consumers are investing in these to begin developing their skills with smaller DIY projects.
Consumers show that as a general trend there is still a preference for going to a specialist store to speak to an expert for recommendations, and see and feel the products. On the other hand, internet retailing is witnessing high levels of growth across the region as it guarantees stock availability and ease of use.
The large presence of high-quality private label products, and in less mature markets, the high reputation of local players, causes a highly fragmented environment for home improvement.