Why do customers abandon bathroom renovation projects?

Have you ever had that moment when you’re looking to replace an old product but later decide it still works, so you just stick with it? We have all been there at some point. It's almost as if you know you’re going to need to do it soon, but the push you need to make the change simply isn’t enough at that moment in time. 

Eventually, the product will break and cause us days of frustration as we frantically Google and shop around to find a suitable replacement. During this time we look for the best deal, the fastest delivery and the best features for our money, all while under a mountain of stress and anxiety that keeps piling up the longer it takes to replace the product.

This exact thing happened to me quite recently with my washing machine.

I was aware for at least six months that it was on its way out. I continually gave it the benefit of the doubt, despite it sounding like a rocket being launched into orbit. Looking back, I almost seemed to feel sorry for it. I wanted it to keep pushing on and cleaning my clothes despite the fact it was struggling with a simple 30 minute quick wash.

I was spurred into action this past weekend after the loudness of my trusty washing machine had gotten much more extreme. I ran into the kitchen, PlayStation controller in hand, to discover that my washing machine was halfway across the kitchen floor. Clearly, it was telling me something. It wanted out and was making a run for it. My washing machine had cleaned its last set of jeans and it was time to send it to the recycling centre; replacement time was here.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to take up your time discussing the shiny new 1400 spin 8kg machine (it really is great). Instead, I would like to focus on the events that led me to this point and how it relates to your bathroom buyers’ decisions through the framework of Jobs to be Done (JTBD).

My colleague and expert in all things customers; Christina Connelly, Head of Experience Design can explain JTBD for you in this article.

1/ The fear

JTBD Works around four categories, and to begin, I will focus on ‘anxiety.’ 

When looking at anxiety in JTBD we look at how things might change with the new solution in place. In my case the solution came with a number of factors attached to it which made me hesitant to make the jump. 

Firstly, how much is it going to cost? I didn’t really want to put cash down on a new machine when my current one still worked (in a sense), and with the new PlayStation on the horizon the money was going to be better spent elsewhere. Would it fit in my current space? Was it going to be difficult to operate? I would even get worried about figuring out which compartment is for washing powder and which is for liquid.

These thoughts made me humanize my old washing machine and confirmed my decision to keep it running despite knowing deep down it needed to go.

2/ It’ll be fine

The second category is ‘habit,’ and this relates to me convincing myself over and over again that ‘it still works, it’ll be fine’. 

The habit was me justifying that the washing machine wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. This habit reaffirmed my anxieties and made it so I didn’t have to consider purchasing a new washing machine. 

There are other factors at play here, such as nostalgia and how I viewed this old machine as a part of my home. Alongside that is functionality, it still served its ultimate purpose, to wash clothes; it just did it very loudly at the expense of my neighbours.

So, now we are aware of how lazy I can be when it comes to washing machine replacement, let’s look at the two categories that could change my way of thinking.

3/ It sounds old

As we have determined, my washing machine was loud: very, very loud. It was also pretty ugly and lacked cool digital displays telling me what spin cycle I was using and if I was eco-friendly. These negatives are what we define as ‘pushes’. In the push category, we look at the real-life negatives of the product and the friction it causes us in everyday life. 

So whilst it being loud is inherently a bad thing for the machine, it is also bad for me. It stops me from putting a wash on at night, it causes me to lose concentration when I'm working, it’s embarrassing when it interrupts meetings with my manager and I frantically have to shut 2 doors to drown it out... It also scares the life out of my three cats. These negatives affect me personally and are the reasons why it needs change, these reasons should ultimately enforce the next category...

4/ The Pull

The pull is our final category and is the reason why my life would become better with a new washing machine in place. Now, there are other solutions here besides a new machine, I could for example choose to remove my old one and instead visit the launderette. But this solution isn’t good for me as I don’t really have the spare time to be journeying to and from the local launderette every other day.

Nope, what I need is a new machine, that is the only solution for me! It is quieter so I can use it at any time whilst avoiding strange looks from my manager. It is eco-friendly, which is a big plus for my partner, and most importantly the cat's won’t run and hide with their fur spiked to the roof whenever it hits a full spin cycle.

There are so many reasons why I should have changed before my old machine broke free from it’s space under the kitchen counter, but still, I didn’t take the plunge. 

Despite the push and the pull having huge merits in my everyday washing machine life, they were still outweighed by the negatives of anxiety and habit. I couldn’t bring myself to make the change in advance, it took the machine telling me it was done before I picked up the phone and found a replacement.

So what about bathroom buyers?

Let’s put my washing machine problem to the side and instead look at bathroom buyers, specifically those who are looking to renovate. We have formed our own research at DigitalBridge by interviewing people who have undertaken and completed a bathroom renovation project. We wanted to truly understand why they renovated and what factors made them do it.

It is important for us to understand their anxieties and fears so that we can create a tool that can help them push through and achieve their new space… before baths start to leak and cisterns start to shake.

Speaking of leaky baths, the main factor that caused them to renovate was a product that needed replacing. As with me and my washing machine, the urgency is heightened when things begin to go wrong. It is only then that people truly take action and look at renovation as a viable solution.

So that begs the question, why do buyers wait until such drastic events happen to make a change, and how can retailers provide them with a viable solution to make renovating in advance an easier choice to make?

If we look at the pushes and pulls from our buyers, we can see that before a bathroom meltdown they had many other reasons to renovate their space. They weren't proud of their room and felt embarrassed when people would visit their home. In some cases, it wasn’t safe or was in poor condition. It also didn’t reflect their taste, with some commenting on how ugly their old bathroom suite looked.

Despite that, the anxieties and habits outweighed the pushes and pulls. Many felt their space was good enough or fit for purpose, at the end of the day if you can clean yourself and use the toilet why does style matter? Right?

Like me and my washing machine, the cost was a huge issue with many not wanting to renovate simply because they felt it would be too expensive. Most importantly, buyers are not designers and it was difficult for them to design and visualize their new bathroom.

But why is visualization so important?

Going back to the push/pull of the bathroom buyers. Many of the reasons they had to renovate before a full bathroom collapse were centered around how the bathroom looked and functioned. They may have had inspiration, but they lacked the design skills to turn that inspiration into reality. Without seeing what their space could be and how it could work for them, how can they justify the change? The design block was in the way of their dream and in turn, they were forced to live with a bathroom that wasn’t a true reflection of their style and needs, this in turn caused embarrassment each time a guest visited the room and lowered the standard of the home it inhabited.

It is the understanding of buyers and the design block they face that has led DigitalBridge to create a Guided Design tool for Home Decor & DIY retailers. Think of it as a magnet on your website that pulls customers away from habits and anxieties and makes it easier for them to focus on the positives that a new bathroom can bring.

By hiding complexities and making the tool easy to use, we can relieve anxiety and make the impossible, possible. With anxiety reduced, the customer can look past the habits and nostalgia of their current suite and instead, alter their focus on what is bad and why it needs changing. Being able to see this new dream directly in front of them in stunning 3D, means they are more likely to move forward and purchase long before disaster strikes.

This creates positive outcomes for retailers who adopt a Guided Design tool on their eCommerce website. By enabling customers to visualize their dream space and solve the problem of the design block, retailers will improve their customer experience.

It will also put them at the forefront of digital innovation as they pave the way for a new standard of bathroom design for their customers. A standard that removes complexity and shortens their sales cycle, leading to an increase in conversion as more and more people start to realize that they don’t need to wait for a broken-down bathroom to tell them it’s time for a change, they can have their dream bathroom sooner than they think.

With a Guided Design tool on your e-commerce store, you can remove your customer’s anxieties and give them the push they need to pull them towards purchasing their new dream bathroom.

With that in mind, I’m off to do a weekly towel wash in an eco-friendly manner at 30°C. it’s amazing how much more enjoyable it is to do when I don’t have the fear of my kitchen cabinets caving in under the vigorous shake of a broken down washing machine. 

I just wish I had made the switch sooner…

Want to know more about how your customers think when renovating their bathroom? We have a whole host of other research we would love to share with you! 

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