Almost every day, we get to experience some kind of marketing from Mitre 10 Mega or Bunnings. Whether it’s a television ad or a soggy mailer that we pull from the post-box, we’re continuously nuked with marketing messages proudly proclaiming that they’ve got just what we need for whatever DIY job we’re planning to tackle, regardless of scale or cost. This of course includes all the advice on which products to choose to make the process as heavenly as possible. And that’s true – sort of.

There’s a fundamental problem with this marketing approach that I call the DGAF Factor. Simply put, it states that the bigger the scope of the project and the more the consumer spends, the less involved Mitre 10 Mega or Bunnings become. Let me explain. 

If you buy a lawnmower, or a high-pressure water blaster, an expensive outdoor furniture set, or even a simple hammer, then the Mitre 10 Mega or Bunnings floor staff (when you can find them) are all over you like cheese on a mouse. However as your project gets bigger, more expensive and more time heavy, the scope of their involvement plummets. 

Let’s consider what’s involved in doing a kitchen renovation. Both Mitre 10 Mega and Bunnings claim to have everything you need, from cooktops to extraction fans to cabinets; you name it, they’ve got it. Except they’re missing one critical ingredient: someone to do the kitchen renovation for you. You can spend a heap of money on products to renovate your kitchen but there’s no chance of them actually doing the work for you. Now you might say I’m crazy and that’s not what their business is all about, but why isn’t it?

Only if you can claim to be “New Zealand’s Ultimate DIY Guy or Gal” can you say that you can handle all the labour on a huge project like a kitchen reno. That you’re so skilled that you don’t need to worry about labour costs, or tools, or time off work and so forth to get it done. For the rest of us DIY slobs (and there’s a fair chunk of us), with our full-time jobs, there’s just no chance of successfully handling such a huge job. We HAVE to get the independent contractors in; builders, plumbers, a sparky and whoever else’s needed to finish the job, and then we have to project manage it. And that’s a bit of a minefield.

Which is where the DGAF Factor arrives to push us even further into unhappy land. Will anyone at Mitre 10 Mega or Bunnings recommend someone to do your renovation, a reputable contractor or builder? No they won’t and it’s pretty obvious why: a recommendation can easily turn into a problem due to the inconsistency in the quality of builders, plumbers etc. and the relationships they have with their customers. Obviously if there’s an issue with the product, the manufacturer’s warranty will be honoured, but the vast majority of problems you’re likely to come across in a renovation sized project like a kitchen or bathroom come from the workmanship.

This is where the marketing of Mitre 10 Mega and Bunnings hits the wall. Their mantra of “we sell, you do” has been chanted for ages and us consumers haven’t seen any alternatives. But what if they could change this, or at least, balance out the DGAF Factor just a little bit?

What if they had to take a more active interest in installation? Maybe they could wrangle all those cowboys off the reservation and start a move towards developing a system where they project manage big renovations. In a situation like a kitchen reno, the products only make up approximately a third of the total cost of the renovation, the rest is labour. So why do they walk away from some of the other two thirds, or even from the simple job of making sure that their clients are happy?

What’s the lesson that marketers can take from this? Simple: don’t ditch your customers at the most crucial part of their experience with your company. To put it even more clearly – imagine buying a new car where the manufacturer sends you the engine in 3,609 pieces, with the only way for you to drive it being if you assemble the it yourself. Not a good look at all, yet that’s more or less what Mitre 10 Mega and Bunnings do. 

Sure, DIYs in our DNA and all that, but regardless, the first of these two DIY Monoliths to offer true customer satisfaction will make such an impact that the other will scramble to follow.