Since announcing the merger with Vizeum and boosting its strategic capability, iProspect has released the first in a series of COVID related reports that will help direct clients in recovery. This report explores the future of home.
“Even before COVID-19 appeared, hermit culture was in full flow with many Australians seeking comfort and solace from a high paced life at home. But now, what we buy, what we eat, how we spend time and even how we arrange and design our homes has shifted. This report unpacks what that means; identifying key areas of importance for brands and categories,” said Sam Cousins, newly appointed Head of Strategy & Planning at iProspect Australia.
A shift in what we want in our homes
In 2019 it was estimated that over 80 per cent of the population would be living in and around high-density metropolitan areas by 2022. That all changed after April 2020. With 40 per cent-50 per cent of the population able to work from home, tree and sea changes are now high on the agenda for many people. The outer suburbs are about to have their time as prime locations to move to, and the pandemic has also forced people to look at other ways to be less reliant on external sources. Growing your own food will become more independent, coupled with ways to be ‘off grid’ with solar and other services gaining popularity, particularly with the shock of the increased cost while working from home. Open plan, the cornerstone of Aussie living, will shift to more adaptable and closed off spaces to allow for working and studying and more time spent at home.
Stockpiling is here to stay
Pantry space will become more important as people buy larger more value pack ingredients and move away from frequent shops to a large weekly shop. As families and households spend more time together, food is a huge connector. Brands that can show moments where they bring people together with ease, or pull through trusted values that deliver on the occasion they are needed for, will forge bonds with consumers. As consumers make more purposeful decisions with smaller consideration sets, new brands are making it on to the list and getting into the home. 21 per cent have changed brand preferences since COVID19.
Pets as growing family members
Extended periods at home has meant that having a dog or cat has become a reality for many people. With international, domestic and even business travel severely reduced, worrying about the care of animals whilst not at home, or it not fitting their lifestyle, have dissipated.
Over the period since March an increase in spend on pet supplies peaked at 30 per cent with it now sitting at 11 per cent YOY. Homes will need to adapt to accommodate pets, especially in terms of fencing, or finite spaces so escaping is not possible. When travel opens up there will also be more desire for pet friendly accommodation. Pet owners are often willing to pay more to avoid kennel fees.
Growth in household goods
Decorative items are still selling as people look to enjoy their space at entry level costs.
White goods such as freezers peaked early followed by small appliances and laundry items are now experiencing growth. And it’s not just new items increasing. In a recent Gumtree survey 37 per cent of respondents agreed they were more likely to buy second-hand goods post Pandemic with 85 per cent stating they had items to sell. Appliances, kitchen and dining items, chairs, gardening tools and lamps were the most popular products in this thriving second-hand economy.
An evolving approach to retail
The shift away from the showroom means direct to consumer brands can now compete with large retailers with storefronts. Consumers will have less human contact in many of these categories as businesses reduce staff and operate in line with
social distancing requirements. Click and collect has seen huge growth and is the new showroom for a customer brand experience, especially with the weight of the delivery networks experiencing such delays,
How we’ve spent our time shifts mindset and purchasing
We all know the big winners during COVID-19 have been streaming services from music, to television and podcasts. August was the second biggest month of all time for BVOD (Broadcast video on demand). Connected TV viewing is up 95 per cent year on year, with 81 per cent viewed through the smart TV and not through casting from mobile. Quality TV content and time has driven usage, but TV audience growth is now levelling. Radio audiences have grown 7.1 per cent (June vs Feb) with a gain of 1.3m in people 25-54 demographic. As our involvement in content has grown so has our need to listen or watch through better technology. With smart TV’S, casting devices and smart speakers all increasing. 6.8m people now have a connected TV, 4m Australians now have a smart speaker.
Maximising time spent at home with content
Many in-home activities have solo participants. Outside the 1000 per cent increase in zoom calls, streaming services are now finding ways to connect households together. Netflix Party is a way to sync up viewing with friends so that live commentary can be shared and discussed along the way, similar to how viewers of the bachelor and other reality TV shows use social media to discuss the events live. Disney+ have also launched their version of this with Group Watch. Spotify have also created Group Sessions so that people can enjoy music together across a variety of occasions.
Turning this into action:
How to be human when you can’t be face to face?
We must find ways to connect through new experiences in the way that our customers connect with each other, just like friends text and businesses call. What can we learn from this kind of short hand that will overcome the shift in businesses to socially distance?
Utility is back
The brand as utility trend is back. How can we boost productivity and truly be useful to our customers? Is it through new needs, new products or simply re-framing. What other brands can you work with to provide a better experience to your customers?
First mover advantage
Where can you move first when there is less spend and less noise in market. Are there channels you’ve never been in or environments that were never relevant that now might actually work. Think business environments for tourism, or lifestyle areas for B2B.
Open all hours
Shopping is open all hours now, there is no peak time anymore. Follow triggers that indicate when your product contextually fits the channel.
New customers, new experiences
How do we make the most of new entrants to ecommerce, or upgrade a click and collect experience? How else can we personalise delivery? What can we do to make sure that the end to end experience is a good one?
Hygiene as standard
Reassurance about entire product chain hygiene for anything coming into the home is a must. Where can you also build in sustainable packaging?
Do you have the right to give advice, if so ‘how to’ content taps into utility and can guide consumers on how to use your products or solve in home problems
Aged care at home tech
With the aged care issue high on the agenda to improve, many families may consider in care home for family members. What tech or services could you provide in this area that helps families manage this level of care?
Kmart announced their August living launch is to be enhanced with AR technology so customers can view the product in their own home before they buy it. How might this work for your brand?
Create new communities
How can your brand bring people together, where is the right place for you to play? Is there something you can create around a commonality through shared beliefs or passions? There are great examples of brands creating micro-communities: Airbnb with ‘Airbnb for women’ that started from the consumer generated ‘women hosting women’.
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