What are the current trends in the construction and trades industry in 2021?
It’s been a very interesting year for most construction professionals and trade businesses. Whilst some have been able to continue without too much impact, others have seen a nose-dive in demand and rapid resurgence as restrictions have been lifted. All these changes have led to very apparent marketing trends and some specific response requirements.
We’ve identified three key construction business trends and analysed what that means for marketing your business.
Before I get into the details I want to share a simple marketing concept with you that will explain the structure of this piece in advance. The concept I am referring to is called ‘Three Phase Marketing’ and does exactly what it says on the tin!
What is Three Phase Marketing?
Within these three phases there are a number of component strategies and options available to businesses on how they achieve these outcomes. These deeper explanations can be found in my book (Growing by Design) which you can discover here.
For today, I’m going to keep it top level in this blog, and simply provide you with some up to data insights that will prove interesting.
Primary marketing trends: increased demand for trade and construction
Within recent months there has been a substantial uptick in demand levels for construction projects. This has led to an in line confidence boost for business owners in this sector. According to the FSB, 36% of construction businesses in the UK were confident about growth in 2021.
This is further backed up by an estimated growth rate in construction in 2021 and of 8%, and 2.5% between 2022 and 2025.
This encouraging situation is tempered by the fact that a number of companies have not made it this far, but for the survivors it does provide real hope that the worst is behind us.
In part this uplift in requirement is in reality a pent up demand for works not completed during lockdown. It is, however, also a function of additional demand being identified by people spending so much time in their home environment, and now acknowledging their need for additional space or a desire for revised use.
Secondary marketing trends: more opportunities from past customers
The shift in consumer requirement mentioned above, has a similar impact on secondary marketing. Not all customers are first time opportunities, and as a construction or trades business, these additional needs can be nudged along nicely with some proactive account management.
Whether this is by telephone, email or general content marketing to the known audience, there is a good opportunity to prompt a current or past customer to buy from you again.
Perhaps last time they had a kitchen and now they want an extra bathroom. Maybe last time it was a roof repair, but now they want an extension or a garage conversion. Whatever the solution, the need has become more front of mind for your audience, and businesses can benefit from increasing their outbound marketing efforts.
One limiting factor to this is the capacity to deliver. Due to the extra demand, many companies are struggling to fulfil on their current order book. Depending on what your plan is, now may also be a great time to improve your marketing for new staff, or to improve your value proposition to maximise average sale values rather than simply increase the volume of work undertaken. If you cannot grow the output of your business, then grow the margin!
Some statistics to back up these ideas are shown in a recent article from The Guardian, where they refer to a substantial step up in demand for home working offices.
The revised stamp duty levels has increased home moving massively, and often these moves are accompanied by building works and related trade service requirements.
One challenge created by all of this demand, as well as a highly unusual blockage in the supply chain of materials through the Suez Canal recently, is a shortage of materials. Many companies are experiencing both a lack of materials, and also an increase in cost of materials as demand outstrips supply. Timber, for example, has seen a price hike of around 10% in recent months.
Again, this generates a need for effective marketing as there is a real world need to explain that change and demonstrate that a need to alter pricing to customers exists. If your costs rise and you do not reflect this on to your customer, your margins will decline, and this may well mean you do all the extra work but don’t get the profit benefit at the end!
Tertiary marketing trends: requirement for specialisms and partnerships
According to this interesting article from News From Wales, there is an increasing requirement for subcontracting specialisms such as sound insulation, construction technology and highly technical planning services.
Whilst not formally a pure marketing concept, this does provide an opportunity for alliance partnership or joint venture marketing. By this I mean that these companies can ‘team up’ and positively reference or even jointly market themselves in an efficient manner. This can lead to a cross-pollination of client-bases that have a common requirement. By doing so, it also protects both businesses against other broader service competitors – together you stand stronger.
In addition to other companies, there is an ever present need for customer referencing. Proactive communication from businesses in the construction sector and within trades businesses is more vital than ever. Up to date, positive referencing has been proven time and again to heavily influence customer behaviour.
Final thoughts on construction marketplace trends
For every £1 spent with SME builders, 90 pence remains in the local economy. This is a stark fact, and a reminder to all of us that it is important to buy local. We need to support our local construction and trade companies now more than ever. Whilst there is an uplift in demand, we must not forget that this follows a substantial depression, and many are still playing catch up for lost revenues.
For those running these companies, understanding the trends is one thing. Acting on them is another.
Now is the time to adapt to the changes and do something positive to make the most of them. Remember that whilst you are standing still, your competitors are not. Knowing these construction industry trends will only help you if you do something about it.
If you run a construction or trade business, and want some help to understand how to adapt, you can arrange a complimentary marketing review with us.