Chronic dissatisfaction is typically an important signal for market opportunities. The recent Home Innovation Research Labs study of residential garage usage found an unusually high degree of dissatisfaction among homeowners with the state of their garage — only 11 percent said they are satisfied with the current state of the garage and would do nothing to improve it! Ultimately, homeowners want to make their garages a more pleasant and comfortable place, if they could only manage to get the storage “sprawl” under control and keep it there.
Our nationwide survey of homeowners closed with an open-ended question, “How could you best improve your use or enjoyment of your garage?” Respondents were simply given space to write the first things that came to mind. We grouped the more-than-800 responses into the categories listed below.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the top four answers either directly or indirectly get the homeowner more garage space, or just more usable space. When homeowners provided a reason for their choice, they often said they wanted to reclaim the garage for parking, create or expand a work area, or needed more space to store other things like lawn tractors, four wheelers, canoes, snow blowers, and power equipment.
In the top category of installing storage fixtures, respondents specifically identified shelves, cabinets, hooks, and overhead storage systems. Those wanting to remove junk and unwanted items mentioned selling, donating, or throwing away things like sports or exercise equipment, items left behind by an ex-spouse or adult child, or just things that were no longer useful or needed. Those wanting to organize cited reasons that make the garage space more usable for certain purposes — such as for a work space — or to free up space for additional storage or parking. When respondents noted a desire to expand their garages, they typically mentioned adding another parking space or two. Some, however, just wanted a few more inches or feet of space to fit their SUVs. The rest of the desired improvements focused on aesthetics and comfort of the garage itself.
With the plethora of garage storage systems available and the availability of contractors who would build, expand, and upgrade the garage, it is noteworthy that there continues to be such a high degree of dissatisfaction with the garage. I’m confident there are opportunities to be uncovered here for manufacturers and contractors alike in a few of the conclusions I draw from this study. Home designers can presume a mounting accumulation of "stuff" by households and a steady migration into the garage. Designing adequate storage space, the right kind of storage space, and suitable egress will be most appealing to homebuyers who have already experienced the sprawl. Garage improvement specialists can acquire skills that resemble organization consultants and have a ready outlet for those wanting to sell, donate, or toss the less useful contents of their garages as the first step in providing upgrade services.
Opportunities still exist for manufacturers of new storage systems as well, who can provide training to their dealers and contractors on how to conquer the clutter that stands in the way of a permanent garage solution for homeowners. Have you had your own stroke of genius in how to maximize the value of this "state of the garage" snapshot information? I'd be happy to provide you the detailed report on our findings and help you navigate the possibilities — just contact me.***