Storytelling has always been one the most effective ways for retailers to engage with their customers – so why do we rarely see it being used in DIY stores? Mariann Wenckheim, director at strategic design consultancy 20.20, believes brands must harness the power of imagination if they want to evolve.


n the UK, buying a home is something that many people aspire to. Aside from practical or financial considerations,


comes with a great deal of emotion. From the moment a prospective buyer walks through the door, they will be imagining stories, whether it is playing with the kids outdoors, entertaining friends or spending lazy weekends enjoying breakfast. According to the latest government figures, 63% of UK households are owner-occupied, which is much higher than some European countries where renting is more prevalent. In Germany, for example, the figure hovers at around 50%, so you could be forgiven for thinking that fewer people undertake home improvement projects. After all, there is little point investing in new fixtures if the house or flat does not belong to you.

While this kind of DIY may be less popular in the UK, there is no doubting the importance of lifestyle. Websites like Houzz and social media, such as Instagram and Pinterest, are awash with pictures of perfect interiors – they tell a story about the person and their home, acting as inspiration for others to start their own projects. The suggestion is that joy and a sense

of accomplishment come

from making something yourself rather than buying it straight from the shelf.

Help your customers imagine This idea of storytelling has so far been a rather untapped resource for DIY brands. Although some are starting to experiment with different store formats and more engaging online services, the landscape is still dominated by large outlets selling single items, rather than a focus on wowing customers with fresh and creative ideas.

“Customers walking into a store with a project in mind are unlikely to be inspired by an overwhelming array of individual products...”

Ikea brings to life contemporary ways of living and lets customers shop the entire extended range through omni-channel technology

10 DIY WEEK 12 MAY 2017

It is therefore surprising that Germany has the biggest share of the DIY market on the continent, partly thanks to the popularity of painting and building furniture.[1] With a strong tradition of crafting quality homeware, people often find as much pleasure in the process as they do in the finished object. Even if they do not own the property, these objects can be transported wherever they move.

It certainly contrasts with the

furniture industry, which is making great strides in drawing customers in by creating stories around its products. The likes of DFS, John Lewis and sell sofas but they also sell the feeling of living with the furniture by encouraging people to imagine it in their homes.

The most notable example is Ikea at Westfield Stratford, which

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