Designing Your Life – part 2 of 3

As we sat around Mary’s kitchen table in Nova Scotia, discussing this design-it-yourself trend, I recalled that a number of years ago, I had participated in a brand mapping and segmentation project for Canadian retailer Rona, a big chain of home improvement stores competing directly against Home Depot.

That study, and several others since then that I’ve seen, posit a set of audience mindsets that pertain to home improvement and décor. In no particular order, the top segments include:

Nest Builders: Their key motivation is something like “We’re settling down and want to create a lovely nest for ourselves.” They tend to be couples recently committed to a long-term relationship, young families, really anyone at a life transition where settling down and creating a strong sense of belonging is key. They tend to design once and enjoy it for many years. Comfort and utility are key, not showing off or demonstrating artistic sensibility. They may or may not even post their spaces once designed. It’s really more about themselves and their families enjoying it in privacy.

In the Maslow’s hierarchy, this mindset corresponds mainly to the need for “belonging”.

Compulsive Renovators – We all know a few of these. For them, life is a project, a never-ending project. They tend to have a higher income, have some discretionary time on their hands as well, own their own dwelling and may have more than one dwelling in fact. In the Northeast, towns like Scarsdale, New York or Short Hills, New Jersey are filled with homes that never seem to be finished. In Toronto, neighborhoods like Fores Hill or suburbs like Oakville are natural habitat for the Compulsive Renovator. A new kitchen, another addition — oh, and now we’re building a pool. Honey, I’m bored with the kitchen, let’s do it again! These folks will have a personal consultant at Home Depot or the like, someone who knows them well and is there “go to”, along with their contractor. In fact, these folks do in fact use designers and decorators, more than the other types.

This mindset covers several different dimensions in the hierarchy of needs, including “belonging”, “esteem” and “self-actualization”, along with the universal need to “have something to do with all the time on my hands.”

In the next post, we’ll explore two other mindsets as it relates to this trend, who represent a large source of business for any company in the business of helping people design their environments.

– W.