International Builders Show 2023: Five Trends Your Team Needs to Know
Builders and construction professionals from across the world met recently at the International Building Show, a highly anticipated annual event in the construction industry. Manufacturers, marketers and anyone interested in the building industry’s latest trends and products attended. Of course, our team members from Brand Vaughan were there in Vegas to connect with professionals, learn about new products on the market and find out more about what’s going on in the world of construction.
Here are the top five trends and products that we saw during Design and Construction Week at IBS 2023, both at the event and what we’re noticing here in the Atlanta area. NAHB IBS – Photo Gallery
1. Builders are Building — They Need Support
It’s no surprise that the housing market feels unpredictable, but builders are adapting to fluctuations in single-family housing starts, which “were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,450,000” in February, according to data from the Census Bureau. That’s an uptick from earlier in 2023, but lower than last year’s housing starts. In other words, builders are still building but they’re being selective by taking on longer-term projects.
“A trend our team saw at IBS was builders taking on projects that would take as long as 7 to 8 years,” explained Phillip Faulkner, Brand Vaughan Lumber’s Supply Chain Manager. Project timelines are dependent on supply and labor, both issues that have challenged builders across the United States.
“In Atlanta, builders are trying to crank out homes more quickly, and we’re seeing an improvement in single-family home projects, as far as supply delays go,” says Phillip. “But builders are looking for manufacturers that will be reliable for those long-term projects.”
Manufacturers and suppliers will need to rise to that challenge. “Brand Vaughan won’t sell products that will cause headaches for the builder down the road. We don’t want our customers to get call-backs on products — they need to be easy to use and reliable,” says Faulkner.
2. Brands Are Doubling Down on Their Niche
Product brands and manufacturers made one thing clear at IBS: “Brands are catering more and more to their niche audiences and offering smaller categories of services or products,” says Faulkner.
Part of the reason for that is practical. “Manufacturers want to service everyone, but there is a focus on multi-family and build-to-rent spaces right now,” Phillip explained. “Atlanta’s residential market is a little higher, so the rental markets are the focus.”
Focusing this way means businesses can give their customers a fuller experience and better service. “Customers want unique stories and products that solve problems,” says Phillip. Offering multiple shades or finishes of a product isn’t enough — the products that builders want need to be reliable and have good reviews.
The International Builders Show is always a great way for construction pros to discover new products and building technology. “We’re seeing more innovations in product or installation methods, and it’s all beneficial for builders,” says Faulkner. “I’ve noticed more direct manufacturer support with builders and installation teams. That kind of job site training is so important — just showing customers how to install the new product. Most are creatures of habit and risk-averse.”
Innovation in the industry is necessary, but for manufacturers and the builders they serve, making sure your shiny new product is usable is key. “People tend to use what they are used to, and with new products and manufacturing, that kind of direct, classroom-style training is helpful,” says Phillip.
He points out that this kind of growth isn’t an overnight success story. “It can be a slow process, but new products have to have a long-term benefit to builders. You can’t just be ‘new to be new.’ Think about price, efficiency and less call-backs for the builder.”
Brand perception has come to be a big deal in construction. If you want your company or product to be at the top of your customer’s mind, then you’ll need to stand out from the competition in some way.
A strong brand gets noticed, especially at IBS, where dozens of companies work actively to connect with builders and construction professionals from the booth. But those companies aren’t just networking at the event — they have an online presence for their followers to find out more, too. “After the pandemic, we’re all used to interacting remotely,” says Phillip.
Being on Facebook and Instagram can help building and construction brands create an online audience, but a website will elevate your brand awareness even more. Homeowners and potential customers will want to see what kind of projects you build, get ideas for their projects and find ways to connect with you. Your website is an all-in-one way to give them what they want. (Read about more ideas for reaching your customers online, over on this blog.)
5. Pandemic Changes and Shifts in Construction
There are still notable changes that builders have adopted from the pandemic. “Of course, the availability of products was an issue for a while — there was a concern that you’d get a project partially built and not be able to finish a home,” says Phillip. “Brand Vaughan was buying anything and everything to make sure we could service our customers.”
But with longer-term projects and a focus on the rental market, builders are moving at a more predictable pace. “People are trying to run things lean again and be more efficient,” he says.
The International Builders Show is always a big event for Brand Vaughan because we want to keep up with what’s going on in the building industry and how that will impact our customers. We’re excited about next year’s event in Las Vegas and look forward to the trends and products that await us in 2024.