The brands giving the DIY sector a makeover

Interest in home improvement exploded in the wake of the pandemic. We speak to DIY veteran B&Q and D2C startup Lick about how they’re communicating with consumers and whether the sector can sustain its lockdown success

The origins of DIY date all the way back to the 17th century, when Joseph Moxon’s book Mechanick Exercises – otherwise known as the grandfather of all modern DIY manuals – was first published. By the 1950s, shorter working weeks, better pay and greater home ownership meant that people had more time to spend on family life and projects around the home, resulting in a boom in the home improvement sector.

While traditionally stereotyped as a ‘man’s job’, perceptions of DIY have been on the move in recent years. Visions of home decor typically fall into one of two brackets: irreverent, as seen with brands such as Ikea and Hornbach, or aspirational, as per Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards. As one of the few sectors that remained open for business as lockdowns swept the world last year, the pandemic has only heightened people’s interest in giving their homes a fresh lick of paint, or even a full-on remodel.

In the UK, homeware brands such as B&Q were on the government’s list of essential retailers from the beginning of the pandemic. As a result, it saw both physical and website traffic more in keeping with Glastonbury than your average home store. Best known for its classic ‘You can do it when you B&Q it’ tagline from the 1970s, the brand’s success last year also coincided with a big shift in its marketing approach. Developed by Uncommon Creative Studio, the strategy is centred around the brand platform Build a Life.