FROM the outside, home improvements looks like the sort of market where nothing ever changes. There's an assumption that it's static and unexciting - after all, people will always need windows and doors, but in actual fact, it's far more dynamic than you might think.
Glass and glazing is undergoing a dramatic transformation. As consumer tastes and expectations shift, the industry is adapting to survive, massively diversifying product ranges and revamping the way it markets them.
Back in the 1980s, the heyday of the original double-glazing industry, life was a lot simpler. Companies sold white uPVC windows, and homeowners eagerly bought them. A window product's performance - how thermally efficient it was, how soundproof it was, its security credentials and so on - was very much a secondary consideration. The consumer's main priority was getting a good price.
That persisted throughout the 90s. But in the 2000s, it started to change. Neal Harper, General Manager at Wellingborough's T&K Home Improvements, explains how the glazing landscape started to shift.
"It was in the mid-2000s that we really started to see the rise of aspirational home improvement shows like Grand Designs on TV," said Neal. "They were strikingly different to anything that had come before - and they began to dramatically change the public's attitudes towards home improvements.
"What we've seen over the past few years is a marked shift towards premium products sitting at the higher end of the market. Consumers are more informed, discerning and demanding than ever - and whereas windows and doors were once seen as a very practical consideration, today they're viewed as a key factor contributing to the overall style and character of a property.
"Homeowners want stylish, highly customisable products that can be extensively personalised to fit their vision - and the most successful composite door firms are those that are responding to that with extensive product ranges designed to give customers the widest possible choice.
"That's exactly what we've tried to do at T&K - introducing aluminium windows and doors, composite doors, and high-end timber-look products alongside uPVC windows, doors and conservatories, all available in a huge range of colours and styles.
"It's enabled us to thrive in this fast-moving climate - and we're hugely confident about the years ahead."