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Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Today’s young adults are generation DIFM (‘Do It For Me’) .. Pragma

AJ Chandrasena, Pragma Consulting  writes .. An Englishman’s home may be his castle, but when it comes to fixing it up, it seems he prefers to pass the job to someone else.

A 2012 Aviva survey revealed that today’s young adults are likely to call on their parents when it comes to decorating or making home improvements: 55% of empty nest parents are still being called upon for help, spending nearly one hour per week working on the homes of their children aged 20-40.

Today’s young adults are in no hurry to learn DIY: this is generation DIFM (‘Do It For Me’). 40% of parents believe their children would hire a tradesman instead of attempting the job themselves, if mum and dad aren’t available to help.

The DIY sector has been beleaguered for some time, and, worryingly, it may be that the full effect of the DIFM trend has yet to be felt. DIY sales are closely tied to home ownership, which increasingly results in an age bias towards DIY-savvy older consumers, given rising house prices. But there is a ‘pig in the python’ – those younger adults will get on the property ladder eventually, and when they do, they won’t DIY. As they spend more of their adulthood stuck in the rent cycle, the more cemented their DIFM mindset becomes, and the more DIY skills are lost.

Yet, both Homebase and B&Q have recently announced confident plans for growth in the next five years, with Kingfisher CEO Veronique Laury making light of the DIFM trend – she has stated that given the average UK salary of £27,000, people can’t afford to hire a tradesman.

Sure enough, the toolbox of mum and dad might not always be open. However, those shy to DIY may find themselves with a 21st-century ace up their sleeves: technologically enabled outsourcing. The most prominent example of this is TaskRabbit, an app with a simple but revolutionary proposition: matching people who need small tasks doing with ‘Taskers’ who are able and willing to do the job for a small fee. The services that can be provided are essentially limitless. Currently, users’ most common requests include help with cleaning, moving, assembling flat-pack furniture, and – sure enough – home repairs.

TaskRabbit has gone from strength to strength, now operating in 18 US cities as well as London. Last week, having gone through several iterations, the app announced its latest and most powerful model: an Uber-style service where users are matched with Taskers instantly, with fulfilment guaranteed within 90 minutes.

It would be a mistake to underestimate how game-changing technology like this could be. Do retailers emphasise their service propositions, as Halfords has done with ‘We Fit’? Or do they prepare for a world where end users rarely actually set foot in store? After all, if you are tempted by the idea of a Tasker to help you with flat-pack furniture, why not simply browse the IKEA website, and have someone pick up, deliver, and assemble your chosen item while you wait?

Pragma has recently completed several projects in the DIY, furniture and homewares sectors.