Home Depot Is Betting That America’s Miserable Movers Will Make Good Customers

May is the big month for relocating, and generally stressing out over it

The home improvement chain is reaching out to Americans in the process of uprooting their lives. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Robert Klara

In case you haven’t experienced it yourself, moving sucks. A recent survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by Life Storage revealed that the average move entails two nights of lost sleep, two arguments with a partner, and two crying jags. Nearly a third of Americans consider moving to be more stressful than interviewing for a job, and 13% say that a week in jail would be easier than a move. So movers, one can surmise, are pretty miserable people.

And Home Depot is hoping they’ll make pretty good customers.

As America enters moving season—over 80% of moves happen between April and September—Home Depot is reaching out to Americans in the process of uprooting their lives to go somewhere else. Starting earlier this month, the 41-year-old home improvement chain started rolling out in-store workshops, how-to materials and social media outreach, all designed to remind miserable movers that they can find both materials and help at the big-box store.

“This is a critically important audience for us,” Home Depot’s vp-brand marketing Lisa DeStefano told Adweek. “We know the market is big, and that’s a sweet spot for us. Our job as a brand is to give them a sense of confidence and help take the stress out of their lives.”

It’s not that movers haven’t made up Home Depot’s target audience before. Last year, it had a New Homeowners Day, for example. But the company decided to apply some marketing muscle to movers in the wake of some routine consumer research it commissioned. Among other things, the data showed that two out of five movers don’t bother to change the door locks in their new home, that three in five elect to patch holes in walls themselves and that most complained that picking out a color to paint a room was harder than actually painting.

In response to these findings, Home Depot has set up a mover’s landing page, and select stores have scheduled live workshops to teach attendees how to change those locks (and patch those walls, and apply til, and put down new flooring, etc.). The retailer has also dispatched some of its popular influencers to the workshops to bring the smarts to a broader audience. The company’s website features a variety of video tutorials—slugged as DIY 101—on these and other tasks, such as removing carpeting and putting in drywall anchors.

To help out with the anxiety of choosing paint colors, there’s also the new ProjectColor app. Consumers snap a photo of most anything they like (say, a bedspread), and the app will then give them the code for the paint that most closely matches it.

Home Depot’s bid to turn the heads of Americans busy relocating not only targets a huge batch of consumers (about 40 million people, according to data from MovingLabor.com), but the effort might well bring in foot traffic well beyond the warm-weather moving season. The Life Storage study found that Americans spend two and a half months preparing for a move and four and a half months organizing themselves once the move is over. So, in theory, even someone who moves this month might still head to Home Depot for paint and supplies in the fall.

The initiative also comes at an uncertain time for the U.S. housing market, whose health has historically had an impact on the 2,289-unit chain. In February, Home Depot indicated it was seeing slower growth in new housing—this on the heels of the Commerce Department’s announcement that housing starts for December had fallen to their lowest level in two years. “As we look to 2019, most housing metrics are trending positive, albeit trending toward stability,” Home Depot CFO Carol Tome told analysts on a call.

If Americans are buying fewer new homes, that could also mean they have fewer reasons to shop at Home Depot. If so, it would make the decision to appeal to movers a shrewd one, not just because many Americans who are relocating are moving into older homes, but also because the home-improvement projects associated with moving are as much about fixing up the previous home to sell as they are about making the new home into a pleasant place to live.

“[The] postmove is important, but we really focus on the audience premove to help them with their prior home,” DeStefano said, explaining that the current initiative seeks to alleviate “that stress of getting your home you’re leaving ready to go as you move out.”

It’s also worth mentioning that, though America is a nation of do-it-yourselfers, a good many of them wish they weren’t. A 2019 survey by ImproveNet found that 63% of Americans who took on home-improvement projects regretted having done it because they “spent too much time, spent too much money, hated the results or all of the above.” (The most-regretted project? Installing floor tiles.)

But Home Depot has a plan for this crowd, too. It’s called Home Services, which offers the helpless DIYer six words of comfort: “Let us do it for you.”


@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.
Publish date: May 21, 2019 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/home-depot-is-betting-that-americas-miserable-movers-will-make-good-customers/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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