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Home Depot’s Strategy for Reaching America’s Largest Age Group

Home Depot and other retailers are altering their marketing campaigns, product design and consumer outreach programs to better target 26-year-olds, currently the largest age group in the U.S., reports The Washington Post.

The cohort numbers around 4.8 million people and represents consumers who are ready to make “life-defining” decisions like buying a home, starting a career and beginning their own families, the article states.

But retailers across industries, including home improvement, home furnishing, equipment manufacturing and consumer goods, find they need to adapt their tactics to best reach this segment of millennial consumers, which differs sharply from previous generations, the article states.

“They grew up playing soccer, having dance recitals and playing an Xbox,” says Jim King, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Scott’s Miracle-Gro, which has recently launched a campaign to educate young consumers on the basics of growing plants, including ensuring the plants receive a steady supply of sunshine. “They probably didn’t spend as much time helping mom and dad out in the yard as their predecessors or their predecessors’ predecessors.”

The U.S. Census Bureau finds that millennials are slower to achieve traditional benchmarks of adulthood. In 2016, only 24 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds had experienced all of what the bureau calls major life milestones, including living away from parents, getting married, living with a child and joining the workforce. In 1975, 45 percent of the same age group had experienced all four of those milestones.

However, the age group is ready to spend. 86 percent of millennial homeowners report making at least one improvement to their new homes within the last year, more than any other generation, real estate website Zillow states.

Retailers who successfully capture 26-year-olds as consumers now could benefit from return trips and “thousands and thousands of dollars” in lifetime sales, says Ted Decker, executive vice president of merchandising for Home Depot.

One avenue many retailers are taking is establishing online tutorials to teach this age group basic life skills like simple household repairs, cleaning techniques and the ins and outs of using common tools. Scotts Miracle-Gro, Home Depot, Procter & Gamble and West Elm have all begun their own online how-to videos. Lawn mower manufacturer Briggs & Stratton has even built its own in-house studio to produce these videos as efficiently as possible, according to the article.

Millennial habits are influencing marketing campaigns as well. A recent P&G study found that millennials favor “maintenance cleaning” as opposed to the deep cleans of previous generations. That led the company to market its Swiffer products toward urgent “in the moment” cleaning tasks to increase sales among millennials, the article states.

Other retailers are moving into home services to target the age group’s spending. J.C. Penney finds this cohort is more likely to hire professionals to complete maintenance and installation projects around their homes.

“They’re much more of a ‘Do-It-for-Me’ type of customer than a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ customer,” Joe McFarland, executive vice president of J.C. Penney stores, says.

J.C. Penney now offers a suite of home services, including furnace and air conditioner repair, water-treatment system installation, as well as bathroom renovation work. Home furnishings company West Elm is also offering service packages, starting at $129, which include plumbing and electrical work, painting and hanging wall art.

Home Depot says it wants to establish its stores as hubs where customers of any age can gather to learn the basics of home improvement. This summer, the company launched a series of online tutorials, which included tips on how to use a tape measure, conceal electrical cords and other basic tasks.

Lisa DeStefano, vice president of marketing for Home Depot, says the tutorial topics were determined by the terms customers were using to search their website. Initially, she wondered if the proposed topics were too basic to be useful, but found that she learned a few new tips and tricks from the video series.

25-year-old Nadera Algoo recently attended an in-store Home Depot course in Manhattan to learn how to properly install a ceiling fan. She says she learned the skills she needed to save money and keep her home safe and comfortable in the future.

“It’s so easy to get ripped off,” Algoo says. “And it’s cool to know.”

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