Consumers Feathering Their Connected Home Nests

Among the more unexpected effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last half-year or so is the sudden home improvement boom it set off among consumers.  Unexpected, but not entirely surprising, as consumers suddenly spending nearly all of their time in their homes these days have realized that home ought to be as nice and as comfortable as humanly imaginable. And since they’re not eating out, travelling far from home or going to events very much these days, many even have the budget to make some upgrades.

New furniture, new appliances, new floors, swimming pools, gardening supplies, tools boxes, paint and patio furniture are just a short list of things that have seen their sales surge as the homebound have begun feathering their nests and making their homes more comfortable, useful and aesthetically pleasing.

And, as new data released by Security research company Security.org indicates, that upgrade wave among consumers is increasingly extending to making their homes smarter as well.  The overwhelming majority of consumers report already owning at least one smart home device (91 percent), with a very solid majority planning to purchase more in the not-too-distant future.  The survey found 64 percent of respondents said they were planning to buy a new type of smart home technology within the next year.

Now, there are caveats with the data — the first of which is the survey cast a very wide net for what “counted” as a smart home device to get to that 91 percent, including expected stuff like smart speakers, smart lights, thermostats, etc, but also things like smart TVs, which tend to inflate the figures. But the survey does show that smart appliances are gaining ground among consumers, which at least strongly indicates that smartening up their homes is increasingly becoming part and parcel with the whole home improvement rush among consumers.

A Variety Of Smart Homes 

What exactly constitutes a “smart home” as of late 2020 is in many cases a matter of perspective. On one end of a spectrum, a smart house might refer to a home with a few elements like lights or thermostats connected to a smartphone app that gives their owner the option of remote control. On the other end of that spectrum are the fully wired-up domiciles running a series integrated systems and leveraging an entire collection of connected sensors and household items working in concert — care of a lot of very complex programming and automation routines.

Between those two points there are a variety of connectivity options.

In fact, according to a recent New York Times article on the state of the great smart home expansion nationwide, what distinguishes the current surge in smart home technology adoption among consumers from the home-automation rushes of the past is the degree to which the current smart home can be an entirely DIY venture.  The veritable explosion of  smart refrigerators, washing machines, window shades and air-conditioners are rolling into the market ready to plug-and-play

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The Growing Importance Of The Home For Young Consumers

A new report by youth marketing experts YPulse titled “No Place Like Home” provides significant new insights on how the Covid pandemic has changed how Gen Z and Millennials view the homes. The following statement summarizes key findings: “As young people look to their spaces as mental health retreats, at-home items and services that comfort, declutter, or foster a feeling of escape that from the outside world will resonate.”  The opportunities for marketers are clear and will be elaborated on below.

YPulse previously observed that millennials have homebody tendencies, with a majority preferring to go to a  café or watch Netfix at home as opposed to going to a party on a Saturday night. A recent survey confirms that this sentiment was present even prior to the pandemic, with, “…67% of 19-37 year olds telling YPulse in January this year that they would rather stay in on the weekends than go out.”

Both millennials and GenZ (widely regarded as the most stressed out generation in history) are seeing the home as a refuge from the outside world, as many have felt stressed by issues such as climate change, the 2008 recession, student debt, and now Covid-19. 

YPulse and it’s Vice President for Content, MaryLeigh Bliss predict three major trends pertaining to young people and attitudes toward home going forward that are worth looking at and considering into how they affect marketers. They are:

1)     Shifts in How Young People Use Their Homes Will Create Opportunity For Marketers

With a strong majority of Millennials and GenZ having the goal of owning a home, how they use that home will be of interest to markets in many product categories. YPulse points out several Covid-related shifts in emphasis among the younger consumers in terms of how they will use space, including heightened demand for:

  • Fully equipped home offices (seating, lighting, desks, temperature control), with many indicating a preference to work at home even after the pandemic.
  • Home fitness space and equipment, with 63% indicating that when the pandemic ends they would prefer to exercise at him.
  •  Private outdoor space, with many preferring having their own private space even after Covid passes as opposed to using public parks for this purpose
  • Cooking supplies and well-equipped kitchens. While the demand for eating out does not appear to have done away, there has been an uptick in the number reporting that cooking is a hobby.
  • Play space for children; this has been spurred by many dealing with home schooling while trying to keep them busy via fun and productive entertainment.

Clearly, each of these trends creates opportunities for brands in these categories.

2)     Renewed Emphasis on Comfort, Simpler Design, and Home Improvement

YPulse reports that Covid has led to 80% of young people self-quarantining and, 83% reporting that their home has provided them with comfort during the pandemic. 

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