There was a time when home and garden makeover shows such as Ground Force, Changing Rooms, DIY SOS, Grand Designs etc ruled the airwaves.
With them came the home improvement boom of the late 90’s/2000’s. The market was buoyant and we were all spending on our homes. A mixture of wanting them to look good and potentially adding value the main drivers.
I spent over a decade working in the kitchen sector during this period. The home and garden makeover show played a massive part in not only increasing demand for new kitchens, but also directly influencing trends.
I myself worked directly with many of the TV shows popular at the time. I know the impact they had on sales. And the same was true in the garden furniture sector. People wanted the garden furniture they saw on TV or in magazines.
It fuelled innovation in the garden furniture industry, consumers were willing to spend more than they’d ever spent before to get that perfect patio set.
Popular trends such as the ‘outdoor room’ and ‘bringing the outside in’ for example, flourished thanks to TV designers and home and garden makeover shows.
Are home and garden makeover shows still influencing what we buy?
But is the same still true? Are they still relevant? Many of these shows are still going strong. Kevin (pictured above and probably my favourite of this type of TV show) is in his 17th season of Grand Designs, over 160 episodes I think it is!
But do they still hold the same influence they held over us in the 90’s and early 00’s?
Do we still seek out the garden furniture we see on TV shows? Are we now turning to other channels such as the internet and social media for our home and garden design inspiration?
And it’s not just garden furniture on TV of course. TV programmes and advertising, has long influenced our spending habits.
How do we decide what to buy?
That influence is often subliminal, with one of the main ways home improvement shows increase sales is via product placement, the exposure to a certain lifestyle that we aspire.
As consumers we get bombarded by advertising all day. From billboards on our commute to work to TV and print media.
In a way we’ve become immune to traditional forms of advertising. Hands up who prefers to watch TV programmes recorded on their Sky Q so they can fast forward through the ads? I know I do.
Looking back to my university days, one of the first Marketing frameworks we were taught was Kotler’s (that was a big text book we used to have to carry around) 5 step buying decision process that we, as consumers, go through:
Step 1: Problem Identification
Step 2: Information Search
Step 3: Evaluation of Alternatives
Step 4: Purchase Decision
Step 5: Post-purchase Decisions
Which, is basically saying, we identify something that we need or a want, we search the market for what is available to satisfy said need or want, compare specification, prices etc, select that product or service, and evaluate our decision. Pretty simple really.
However, what Kotler’s original framework didn’t take into account was the impact of mobile, digital and social media at each one of those stages above.
Please bare in mind I went to University in the mid nineties. The internet was relatively new and I didn’t get my first mobile phone until 1999/2000. Pretty sure his and a host of other models and frameworks for buyer behaviour have been revised. Anyway I digress.
The impact of modern tech on our buying habits
Modern technology has raised our levels of awareness of what is now available. Traditional advertising has had to evolve to become more personal, more personalised to the target consumer
Take social media advertising for example. You can target individuals based on what they ‘like’. You almost know that the consumer might want to purchase garden furniture before they do, simply based on what they’ve searched or liked.
Everything has sped up, and as retailers we’ve had to become much more savvy, identify those consumers that are looking for new garden furniture, make sure it’s our web shop they find.
This is one of the reasons that our industry is relying more and more on product placement, both on TV and in print.
In fact, many of the leading TV shows have their own sister magazines, also showcasing home and garden transformations.
Product placement on home and garden makeover shows
TV product placement can have a significant impact on the the viewing public too. Despite it seeming whatever the opposite of a paper-tiger is, innocent and innocuous if you will, it can dramatically affect our buying behaviour.
It could even be the trigger that makes us pick one set of garden furniture over another. That association with our favourite TV show could be what plants that seed in your mind.
I don’t want to go too deep into the psychology, and I’m going a little off-piste here again, but product placement is big business. And the reason it is big business, is because it genuinely works.
Many of the home and garden makeover shows are pitched on the fact they’re helping the homeowner. They are, don’t get me wrong, some change peoples lives.
But they’re also helping the ‘industry’ too. We can provide our products to these shows, viewers see them looking great, it creates an emotional connection.
The psychology of shopping
Those powerful emotions we experience whilst watching that TV program are then transferred to the products that appear on it. The clever bit is that we’re unaware of that transfer.
Home and garden shows are all about showcasing the product in the best possible way. Selling the dream if you like. Showing how great your garden can look with a stylish new garden furniture set on the patio.
The relationship we have with our homes and gardens is an emotional one. This type of TV show gives us a glimpse of how we can live.
Our customer photographs work in much the same way. Real shots that help to showcase exactly what our furniture could look like in your garden.
Modern technology helps us make a more informed purchase. Shop around. But TV, in my opinion, is still one the best ways to really sell the dream.