5 Facts to Know for Your Chicago Home Improvement Business Marketing

Fueled by an improving economy and growth in both jobs and wages, the home improvement industry is seeing an increase in demand and sales, and the outlook for home improvement growth is holding steady and even showing signs of improving.

If you’re in the home improvement industry, understanding the nature of the ever-changing Chicago market needs to be a significant component of your marketing strategy as you allocate resources and craft your message. To help with that, we’ve put together some important Chicago stats to help you make decisions about your target audience and how to best reach them.

5 Chicago Homeowner Facts

1. It’s a Mixed Bag of Owners and Renters

In Chicago, there are more than 1.2 million housing units, of which 56% are renter occupied and 70% are multi-unit structures. This information is important for understanding your target audience and determining the optimal media channels for reaching them. Use demographics and psychographics to determine which media will provide the best exposure and frequency to reach your target audience. Will it be mostly renters or homeowners? When you consider the facts, it’s safe to assume it will be mix of the two, and that’s okay. But there are certainly some radio stations, for example, that can prove a strong presence amongst homeowners. Craft a message to appeal to both homeowners and renters, and keep in mind that while not all home improvement services are applicable to renters, some are.

2. Many Have Been in Their Homes a Long Time

Census data for the year Chicago residents moved into their current home as a percentage of the population breaks down as follows:

  • 7% before 1970
  • 6% during the 1970s
  • 12% during the 1980s
  • 27% during the 1990s
  • 41% between 2000 and 2004
  • 8% since 2005

More than 90% moved into their current home before 2005, which means there are a lot of homeowners (or multi-family property landlords and owners) that may be closer to needing upgrades, not just wanting them. For these homeowners home improvement projects are likely on the larger side, like:

  • Remodeling kitchens and bathrooms
  • Replacing carpet, possibly with hardwood or tile
  • Repairing or replacing the roof
  • Replacing HVAC systems
  • Repairing or replacing decks, patios, or fencing
  • Plumbing or electrical repairs
  • Planning additions

So, what does this mean in terms of your marketing strategy? Frame your marketing messages and advertising creative around homeowner “must haves,” positioning yourself as a helpful expert that is there to help. Offer guidance with your content and special promotional offers, especially during times when your target audience is likely thinking about repairs—like months of extreme temperatures, when staying comfortable is critical and HVAC or roofing emergencies could mean disaster.  

3. Home Value Can Affect Interest in Improvements

Home value and equity levels play a big role in the types of projects homeowners choose. As housing values rise, people tend to feel more positive both about their homes and about the economy in general, making it more likely that they will take on major home improvement projects. In the Chicago area, the median value of owner-occupied housing is $238,500. Values break down as follows:

  • 11% under $100K
  • 30% between $100K and $200K
  • 23% between $200K and $300K
  • 15% between $300K and $400K
  • 7% between $400K and $500K
  • 11% between $500K and $1 million
  • 2% over $1 million

It’s important to consider the value of owner-occupied housing units, and whether that changes the kinds of improvements they would invest in or not, when planning your marketing.

4. Married Couples and Female Householders Dominate

The average Chicago household is 2.5 persons, and Chicago household structure is a mix of married couples (44%), female householders (25%), male householders (7%), and non-families (24%). These facts alone are important to your Chicago marketing strategy. With married couples and female householders making up more than two-thirds of the population, it’s highly likely you’ll be talking to women—no matter how you segment your specific target audience. Make sure your home improvement marketing takes that into account, while also not ignoring men.

5. Consumer Confidence is on the Rise

The median household income for the Chicago advertising market is $50,702. While income growth in Chicago has lagged slightly behind the national average, the area is seeing a steady increase in both wages and consumer confidence, and it’s easy to target households with a higher household income when you want to. A positive view of the economy, combined with a bit more disposable income, may provide a good opportunity for advertising non-essential home improvements such as upgrades and add-ons that consumers view as adding value to their homes.

For successful home improvement business marketing, it’s vital to research who your target market is, which segment or segments to focus on, and how best to reach them. In doing so, consider the facts. Chicago homeowner trends shift over time, so make sure you’re staying up to date and leveraging what you learn in your marketing strategy.

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