Chevrolet Colorado in garage FBN

(General Motors)

The Weirdest Trend: Garage Makeovers

By Retail FOXBusiness

Working in the garage has for many years been seen as a manly activity, something that Dad would do in the summer, whether it was tuning up the car or installing new shelving. But now with the boom of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, more women are getting involved with garage purchases and design. 

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According to Gladiator Garageworks, the garage division of Whirlpool Corporation (WHR) that is sold out of home improvement stores like Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW), the percentage of women as primary purchase influencers has seen an almost 5% boost from May 2014 to April 2016. Overall, women make up 40% of Gladiator sales. And the trend isn't just for Gladiator--a spokesperson for Home Depot tells FOXBusiness.com that approximately half of its customers are women.

Women serve as important influencers when their spouses or partners are purchasing garage-related items. “If you’re spending over a few hundred dollars on garage items while in a relationship, the other partner starts to get involved,” says Josh Gitlin, Gladiator’s general manager.

Gitlin tells FOXBusiness.com that a few years ago, Gladiator began tracking who was purchasing garage items and noticed the growing proportion of women. The brand started to make a conscious effort to market towards women, while not alienating their existing male customers. “We really made a conscious effort to still focus on our male customer but understand that the usability needs of a woman tend to be different,” says Gitlin. Part of the marketing started with a website redesign to soften the image, and make it more design-oriented and approachable. Colors also played an important role for product design and the site, with women responding better to whites and reds, and less so to darker colors.

Gitlin says one of the goals is to make the brand more “Pinterest-y,” latching onto the DIY trend. And indeed DIY is picking up. Home Depot, as reported by FOXBusiness.com, cited the growing DIY sector along with the housing boom as boosting its earnings in the second quarter.

Different from other home improvement projects such as remodeling a kitchen, garage projects tend to be stretched over a longer timeline. “The people who are going to do real serious work start the planning early. If it’s a bigger project, it could take them six to 12 months to finish it all up,” says Gitlin. The two biggest factors for determining when to fix up a house are weather and time. But Gitlin says that garage work isn’t as seasonal as people think it is. Dads receive work benches and tool kits during the holidays and for Father’s Day, prompting them to plan out a garage renovation. And retailers create artificial holidays like summer home organization or winter home organization.

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“The difference between remodeling a garage and a kitchen is you end up wanting to do everything at once in the kitchen. With a garage, you can build towards it, every three to six months buy extra pieces to finish it off” says Gitlin.

Of garage products, Gitlin expects to see the most growth in shelving and cabinets, citing people’s desire to hide away more things in the garage.

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