The Influence of the Great Consumer Age

by Stephen Gidus
Reprinted from The PSG Report, 1999, Vol. IV, Issue 1

This is an era filled with infinite purchasing opportunities-an age geared to consumers. Americans are given endless choices for spending their money every time they turn on the radio or TV, read a magazine, access the Internet, or attempt to choose a hair conditioning product from a selection that spans an entire aisle.

Consumer goods shape Americans’ lives to the point that they are constantly forced to make conscious or unconscious decisions about how to spend their money-or not spend it. In fact, there are degrees of how important we perceive certain purchases to be, which makes the process of prioritizing even more complicated. This means that while one person may be willing to spend $100 on a pair of trousers, another consumer sets $50 as his limit. For every person who purchases a $30,000 car, there may be one who will purchase a $20,000 model. Consumers must constantly make purchasing decisions: do I eat at a full-service restaurant or fast-food chain today? Should I buy the designer watch or a knock-off? Can I settle for the store brand of cereal or will only a name brand suffice? Am I willing to pay someone to maintain my lawn or should I take care of it myself?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. What matters to one person may not matter to another. What consumers can afford greatly affects purchasing decisions also. The degrees of importance placed on purchases, however, most often reflect a person’s lifestyle, preferences and income. Without getting into a weighty philosophical debate, what it really boils down to is what is important to the individual.

This also applies, in part, to a homeowner’s decision to renovate as opposed to buying a new home or tolerating the home’s current condition-with one critical difference. While many goods or services are short-term investments, a remodeling project is a long-term condition that the homeowner will live with indefinitely. Buying a box of cereal that the kids decide they really don’t like is a short-term investment that the consumer only has to tolerate until the box is gone. A sweater that is uncomfortable to wear will probably stay in the sweater drawer until it is given away. And if a pair of trousers wear out prematurely, chances are the consumer won’t purchase that brand again. All of these purchases affect the consumer for only a short period of time and don’t involve a large investment.

On the other hand, a remodeling project is typically one of the largest investments a homeowner will make aside from the home itself. Carefully considering who will be responsible for this project is critical to its success-as an investment and a refuge for the homeowner.

While the sweater can be tucked away in a drawer, the cereal box can sit in the pantry, and the trousers can be replaced, the results of a remodeling project is something the homeowner will encounter every day by living and working in the newly renovated space. If the project does not materialize as anticipated, the homeowner could regret their investment every day-until the home is sold. When the remodeling project becomes a disappointment for one reason or another, the homeowner can no longer consider home the refuge that it should be.

This point clearly expresses the necessity of prioritizing goals and expectations for a remodeling project and the importance of the selection process for choosing a renovation contractor.

Finding a contractor who can create a successful project means finding one who is receptive to the homeowner’s needs and goals. This kind of contractor listens to the homeowner and hears what they are saying about their goals and expectations. He determines how the homeowner currently lives in order to get an idea of what kind of lifestyle the homeowner is attempting to create. For the investment homeowners put into a renovation project, they should receive a newly remodeled space or addition that meets specific goals and expectations. Their investment should also buy them the same kind of service and professional expertise they would expect from a medical doctor or attorney, too. This last point is crucial to the long-lasting success of the project. Homeowners who place a high priority on the comfort of their family and an enhanced lifestyle will seek a remodeling contractor who can provide them with the highest form of service and professional expertise available.

Homeowners who select a remodeling contractor because of a low bid or affordability often spend additional money correcting an inferior condition sometimes more than if they had chosen the contractor with the higher bid. Homeowners who cannot afford to correct the work have no choice but to live with it-and be reminded of it everyday.

In a consumer age which provides Americans with endless purchasing opportunities, homeowners can select from dozens of remodeling contractors to complete their project. Many choices consumers make affect them for only a short period of time and don’t involve a large investment. A remodeling project, on the other hand, is one of the largest investments a homeowner will make and deserves a greater consideration. Consumers who highly value the professional expertise that goes along with quality, performance and service, will look for these attributes in the remodeling contractor they select for their project.