You’ve likely heard of the biggest home improvement stores in the industry: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, True Value, and Menards. And among those five, Home Depot and Lowe’s account for over 80% of the market share (as of 2019). Overall, in taking a look at general favorability, we see each store scores well among customers, with Lowe’s tied for the most favorable with Ace Hardware (61%), and Home Depot just four points behind that. 

Despite this similarity, the differences among each brand shine when we look at the types of do-it-yourself home renovators who make up their customer bases. Home Depot and Lowe’s stand heads and shoulders above their competitors, with 40% and 37% of respondents indicating their respective preferences.

However, when we cross that trend against respondents who enjoy taking on home improvement projects, we see something a little different.

People who prefer Home Depot or Lowe’s seem to enjoy doing home projects more than those that prefer other stores (each at 43%), though Menards (41%) isn’t far behind. This cross comparison is especially interesting when we look at store preference against self-described “handy” respondents. 

Despite the general population’s overwhelming preference for Home Depot or Lowe’s, most people who prefer Menards are more likely to consider themselves handy than those who prefer the larger competitors. Perhaps this implies that Home Depot or Lowe’s provide a more comprehensive customer service experience that makes taking on new projects more enjoyable to the less handily-inclined.

When we look at age demographics across store preference, we see something that you might find surprising. 

While Home Depot and Lowe’s attract the lion’s share of customers across each age range in relatively similar portions to each other, Menards stands out among 18- to 29-year-olds. Perhaps the youngest customers live in areas where Menards are more accessible, or the larger chains somehow turn off their youngest potential customers, pushing them to smaller, lesser-known retailers. 

Urbanicity, however, may account for some of this.

The Home Depot is largely prominent in city and suburban areas, while Lowe’s has more strength in rural areas. Menards, however, is also showing preference in rural areas and burgeoning recognition in cities, implying that their slight bump among younger shoppers may provide a foothold in growing its market size against larger competitors.

But What About Quarantine?

If you’re beginning to wonder if the pandemic and quarantine have had an effect on all of this home improvement, the answer is, yes, a bit, aside from the economics of it. 

It turns out that being stuck at home all day has made 34% of the general adult population more likely to change something about their living spaces. This is certainly good news for almost all home improvement stores who might be worried about their spring and summer sales, especially since the data demonstrates that the approximate third of the population likely to take on a project is split roughly evenly across store preference (though notably, Menards does lead in this metric as well). 

Perhaps the difference maker for these brands could be advertising dollars. 

People certainly are watching more TV during quarantine, and if you think that time watching home renovation shows correlates with likelihood to take on a home project, you would be correct. 

The more hours per week respondents spent watching home renovation TV programs, the more likely they were have taken on more home renovations projects over this past year. And in conjunction with that, customers that prefer Menards watch the most TV. 

Though marketing budgets might be strained right now for nearly every industry, it may make sense for home retail chains to keep investing in it, especially during home improvement television shows. As we approach the end of large-scale quarantining over the next several months, Menards seems poised to grow among the do-it-yourself crowd, potentially challenging the long-established largest competitors in the industry.