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The Love-Hate Everything Place: COVID-19’s impact on how we live and the brands we invite in home.

The Love-Hate Everything Place: COVID-19’s impact on how we live and the brands we invite in home.

In a year that forced us to keep most everyone out, we invited brands into our homes with the hope they’d play new roles in our lives, provide value and elevate our emotional well-being. And brands — both traditional and novel — quickly accepted this invitation.

By Liz Skretkowicz
Strategist

Americans spent nearly 90% of 2020 at home during quarantine’s peak. As a result, our emotions toward our homes — love, hate and everything in between — are stronger than ever. More time at home has equaled more intimate experiences and new ways of interacting with it, along with a new set of expectations for the brands we invited in to come inside. 

In our research these past few months, we asked consumers how they felt as home evolved from an escape from the world into our entire worlds. Then we asked what brands can learn from this evolution in order to better connect with people even after quarantine restrictions lift. The resulting framework for this new reality includes how brands can extend, optimize and reinvent their value across the brand spectrum to best meet the wider set of consumer needs at home.

This framework reflects changed consumer expectations for their homes — from structure and design to sensorial experiences and relationships. And it acts as a guide for brands looking to provide unexpected value.

For brands assessing their space in the home, analyze these three question sets:

  1. Where does your equity lie?  Does your existing product or service better the foundation, expression or relation your consumers have with their home, or is it a combination of these? How has that equity changed in the past year?
  2. Do you go big in one area? Can you reach the home trifecta? Should you? Where does your brand, product or service not currently play across foundation, expression or relation? There may be an opportunity to stretch into those spaces and create new benefits.
  3. Where do you dial up or down and go from functional to emotional? To keep staying power post-COVID, can you take your brand into a more emotional space in Foundation, Expression or Relation? Or, are you an emotionally benefit-driven brand that could offer some utility and function?

For each Foundational, Expressional and Relational element, we’ve identified a key shift shaping our current experience. 


Suddenly limited in the places we can go, people are putting all their energy into where they are: home. The home improvement industry is booming with 70% of Americans having completed home projects during the pandemic. Home improvement brand Lowes captured the magic that is unleashed when you go beyond DIY and do-it-for-yourself, regardless of the type of project, be it bathroom refreshes or outdoor renovations, which are particularly popular around the younger generations. 

Unsurprisingly, with more people finding success working from home and many school districts virtual, privacy is a currency. Consumer demands for home offices drastically increased and real estate professionals are incorporating notes around ideal backdrops, lighting and potential of extra rooms for the perfect home office or classroom.

A distinct, overarching theme underlies the biggest trends in home design: heightened personal expression. Whether that means venturing into a bold color scheme, incorporating meaningful artwork or crafting the perfect “Skype room,” homeowners want their interior to better reflect their own style.

Further, 74% of consumers prioritize experiences over products — a sentiment that’s only increased prior to COVID-19. When this “experience economy” was reduced to the home, we turned to brands to replicate the stimulation we traditionally seek outside the home, in the home. And we began reinventing our own spaces to better reflect our moods, fuel our interests and empower experiences. The quest for inspiration and joy drove our decorating decisions — from design and aesthetics to products that help to create a certain vibe and maintain our connection to the outside world.

Case in point: Time Out Magazine, a publication that highlights the various events and must-do activities happening in cities, created "Time In" content to bring the world's best entertainment, culture and food to your living room. 

When the pandemic hit, self-care quickly climbed up our priority lists. While the definition of self-care has expanded to be synonymous with wellness, the locations for self-care have been reduced, making home our all-in-one wellness center. 80% of Americans surveyed by Healio intend to regularly practice self-care after the pandemic and 59% of interior designers say the focus in 2021 will switch from setting up a home office to designating a meditation zone or quiet space.

Just as consumers are looking to stay connected to their loved ones, they are simultaneously looking for ways to disconnect. Appointment viewing returned to center stage as people looked to stay connected while apart. Both ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ and Netflix's launch of Teleparty, formerly Netflix Party, saw success as people tuned in with friends and families to watch shows and movies in-sync, despite being in separate homes. When gyms and clubs were shut down across the country, many consumers lost access to their primary destressor.  Quickly, Planet Fitness launched “United We Move” a free “work-in” video series streamed every weeknight that can be done at home.


What’s to come: Although a recalibration toward a life spent predominately at home may be a temporary side-effect of COVID-19, changed behaviors, attitudes and brand relationships will continue long after we’re back to (a new) normal. Check back soon for more on what’s next — and how your brand can find itself at home with the consumers you’re trying to reach, at times they need you most.  


Barkley US

Feb 05, 2021

filed under:
Anatomy of, Consumer Products, COVID-19, Marketing, Media, Millennial, Modern Consumer, Research, Retail, Whole Brand

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