The impact of COVID-19 has led to strange times for marketers. As we adapt to what is hopefully the tail end of the pandemic, we continue to work hard to help you navigate a fast-paced industry with constantly changing consumer behaviors. This content is one of many resources we are creating for marketing and management in the midst of the coronavirus.
As things continue to change, we’re helping by providing marketing advice, fresh perspectives and strategic planning for companies during and after the pandemic. You can view our extensive library of COVID-19 content, resources and research here.
In early 2020, the pandemic drove us into our homes to shelter in place, and ultimately forced many of us to work there, too. Stay at home orders and lockdowns changed consumer behavior in the short term (remember the novelty of a Zoom happy hour?) and now, almost a year into the pandemic, we are seeing many of these consumer behaviors flourish into longer term habits.
As these behaviors start to stick, they will transform the places we call home for the rest of this decade. Here are some of the most significant trends and changes to keep an eye on throughout the 2020s.
1. Working from home will be normal (again)
No matter the pace of vaccinations, the number of Americans working from home will be substantially higher post pandemic. Many employers who had never considered working from home as a viable option have now seen it’s proven to work, and are willing to offer it as an option moving forward, oftentimes to save money on overhead costs like rent or extra office space. Whether completely or partially remote, consumers will continue to blur the lines between home and work.
A look back at history shows how we’ve been blurring these lines for centuries. Back in 1776, Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” described the emergence of capitalism as flourishing from the home with piecemeal work (modern translation: gig work). This was true until the mid-19th century expansion of factories due to the use of industrial equipment.
1819 sketch by Thomas Barritt showing a Manchester home where families lived and ran their grocery business. (Source: The British Academy)
“Small factories” during this period were more likely to be in or attached to a home, so much so that architecture adjusted. In Britain for example, 18th century houses had unusually large second floor windows to assist cloth-weavers to get as much light for as long in the day they could. The need for a dedicated home office is the modern architectural equivalent demand.
It was during these gig work periods when employees were paid on output and tended to work at home whenever they could (modern translation: time-shift) to balance the needs of the home with income. Our history working from home is forgotten, but nothing new.
2. People will invest more in their home environment
All of this additional time spent at home has created a surge in “nesting”. Retail sales in the furniture and home furnishing category skyrocketed 158% in September from the 2020 lows reached in April, per data from the Census Bureau. And, according to a study done by Furniture Today in December 2020, the top four rooms consumers are planning to spend on in the next six months (in order of preference) are:
This makes sense when the same survey revealed more than 40% of consumers are spending significantly more time at home for activities ranging from work, school, eating and leisure. The nesting phenomenon has not just impacted home goods, but also home improvement, outdoor recreational activities, home fitness, hobby segments, gardening and more.
3. Online food delivery will continue to grow post-pandemic
The food industry has also been greatly impacted and is forecasted to see continued shifts. Take the online food delivery segment for example, which is projected to reach $151.5 billion in 2021. This is up 11% from 2020 when the pandemic took hold.
Grocery, take-out, delivery, meal-kits, etc. have all seen changes that will impact these categories for years to come. All of this as a result of first being forced, then choosing, to stay home.
4. Supply chain expansion will change consumer expectations
In order to enable all of these new consumer habits of being at home more, the supply chain to the consumer has greatly evolved over the pandemic. This includes the growing fleet of Amazon delivery vehicles, but also local and regional networks and retailer-owned approaches that are taking shape.
From Uber buying Drizly (alcohol delivery service) to electric last mile vehicles and drones, innovation has sped up in order to serve these new consumer behaviors and their expectations. Once consumers experience these fully evolved supply chains offering faster, more responsive service, it won’t be possible to revert back. Businesses with disorganized or inefficient supply chains will need to adapt.
As these consumer behaviors grow deeper roots and evolve, opportunities will continue to grow for many different industries to play a part in shaping the decade of the home. Whether it’s their bed, home office or newly redone patio, are you prepared to meet customers where they are?
Prepare and plan for the “Decade of the Home” with content made specifically marketers navigating the pandemic landscape. Take a look at our COVID-10 Resources Page here.
This content was originally published here.