Mystery men of research: contractors

The home improvement marketing industry may think it knows contractors. And opinions differ on the best ways to study their purchasing habits. 

But one thing is clear according to a presentation here at the Home Improvement Research Institute Spring Conference: contractors are a difficult group to research.

Mark Delaney, VP of Client Service for Media, Pa.-based SSRS, listed the challenges faced by researchers reaching out to contractors, who account for about 30% of sales at big box retailers.

“Contractors by their very nature are not tethered to an office,” said Delaney, in a presentation titled “Knowing Your Market: Options for Representative Research.” 

It’s not only the nature of their office (a pickup truck) and their jobsite demands. Delaney also pointed to the language barrier. The U.S. Department of Labor projects Spanish-speaking contractors will outnumber English-speaking contractors by the year 2025. And not only that, it’s not enough to simply describe a purchaser as “Hispanic.”

“Consider that terming your audience as Hispanic is akin to talking about the home improvement industry as one industry,” he said. Major differences exist between Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba – just as they exist in tools, flooring and outdoor power equipment. 

“A well-crafted, data-driven strategy is the first step in reaching the Hispanic marketplace,” he said.

The HIRI conference, "Paths to Knowing Home Improvement, "included several research-oriented presentations. For more, visit


- 1:21 PM says

Good insights. We actually did conduct interviews and a survey among contractors to determine the support they are requesting from tool and product manufacturers. It was determined that contractors want and need training that extends beyond the typical product knowledge. We published the results in a white paper called “A Special Report for Home Improvement Product Manufacturers: The Big Payoff Awaits Those Who Invest in their Contractors’ Businesses.’ To download this free 12-page pdf, please copy/paste this link:

- 2:49 PM says

Just call them Latino...not Hispanic

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