Stats show brands sway men's hearts

Add this intelligence to the battle of the sexes: In almost every home improvement category, men value "brand" over "price" more frequently than women do.

That's part of the story from research from Media, Pa.-based ICR, the international research and consulting firm, conducted on behalf of HCN. New ICR analysis shows that older consumers' (65 and over) brand consciousness flares up especially in the categories of paint, bathroom fixtures and carpeting.

The research adds to the previously reported findings showing that across a spectrum of nine home improvement categories, price matters most in carpeting, and brand matters most in power tools (Visit Research at Homechannelnews.com: "Brand and price battle for attention," HCN, June 2013).

It's the realm of the psychologists to explain why men and women differ in their values. Mark Delaney, VP at ICR, presents the following observation: "In general, we found that males in almost all of the cases found brand more important than price in the selection of products in these categories."

The gender discrepancy peaks in the power tool aisle, with a delta of 14 percentage points. The sexes are equally brand-conscious (61%) when buying kitchen appliances. Bathroom fixtures stand out as the lone category where females' brand-consciousness beats that of men.

Why? It's complicated. But there are simple theories regarding the differentials in the age group categories showing older consumers' preference for brands over price. For instance, older consumers tend to have the affluence that reduces the importance of price relative to brand.

"There's also the theory that older consumers have more home-owning and repair experience," Delaney said. "And they may have been burned by decisions made solely on price in their younger days when perhaps their income didn't support more expensive brands."

ICR points out the 65-and-older age demographic represents 23% of the U.S. population, and their spending power warrants careful consideration in any marketing efforts. "It would be foolish to ignore this segment of the population who is to a large extent aging in place and demanding quality products," Delaney said.

The ICR survey also looked at various regions of the country, and a few interesting findings emerged. In the case of kitchen appliances, the importance of brand was highest in the West, where trophy kitchens are the status symbol — both indoors and outdoors, in some cases. Also, brand importance for windows was highest in the North Central region.

Delaney commented: "We see more severe weather in that region of the country than some others — therefore folks may want the additional peace of mind a known brand often provides — but it's also interesting to note that some of the largest window brands happen to be located in that region." He added: "Coincidence?"

ICR is an international consulting firm based in Media, Pa. It specializes in sectors, including home and home remodeling and consumer packaged goods. Contact: Mdelaney@icrsurvey.com.