A New Appreciation of Home

A New Appreciation of Home

A New Appreciation of Home 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

The world of a strategist is layered, multifaceted, and complex. Entrenched in the consumer perspective, we find ourselves a bit like a sponge. Eager to absorb every bit of insight into the truth of our client’s consumers. Whether firsthand from a consumer study or thumbing the pages of detailed reports, we live to know the motivations and drivers to understand intent and brand opportunities.

In 2014 I remember when IKEA announced its Life at Home report. To me, it was fascinating. We’re often privy to that type of information from our clients or through our own independent research, but it was one of the first times I recall a brand had made a concerted effort to not just “do the work,” but also publicly share the findings. At the time, I remember my consumer research studies focused on the changing family dynamic, mealtimes, and dayparts, not necessarily the definition of home in its purest form.

Amongst many consumer reports, trend studies, and research, year after year, I continued to look forward to the Ikea Life at Home report. Such an intimate retrospective and a globally connected theme, it was always on the top of my reading list. Fast forward to 2018. This report, in particular, signaled a significant shift, one that I think wasn’t maybe as obvious. The definition of “home” had evolved more than it probably had in the two or three decades prior.

The research revealed that almost 40 percent of Americans didn’t feel a sense of belonging in their homes. Many found an extended sense of belonging in the communities where they live. One participant, Anna, stated, “Home is arriving to a place where people take me as I am, where I can be myself and have freedom.” In a larger context, emotional needs, typically associated with the home, like comfort, security, ownership, and belonging, were being met outside the four walls of the home. A new network of places and spaces in consumers’ daily routines became part of the complete home equation. The dimensions and emotional landscape of life at home continued to progress on this path until 2020.

Rediscovering Home

In 2020, life at home was fundamentally disrupted due to the global pandemic. It changed lives in the most unimaginable and challenging way, and people were forced to redevelop a relationship with home. With new emotional needs and priorities, we reevaluated what we wanted and needed in a living space, and it turns out, life demanded so much more of the home.

Kitchen Creation
Consumers who loved to cook revisited their culinary talents while novice chefs put themselves through Cooking 101 classes. Pinterest boards were populating at rapid paces while online tutorials were at an all-time high. More time at home meant more available time in the kitchen. From air fryers to instant pots, consumers embraced a new role as culinary creators, and food frugality took top priority.

Outdoor Oasis
Once an afterthought or occasionally used, outdoor spaces became a critical home extension—a safe social space for congregating and an escape from the at-home workplace. Green thumbs were spreading as gardening and herb growing flourished. Outdoor space design went beyond furniture and factored the overall outdoor experience from sunrise to sunset.

Multi-functional Workspaces
Occasional office spaces were now getting full-time use, and many realized they weren’t equipped for multi-purpose. From makeshift to makeover, multifunctional spaces needed to accommodate the adult employed and young students adjusting to an at-home school classroom.

Leveled Up Entertainment
At-home entertainment meant more than a movie night with popcorn. Consumers became bartenders, and wine shelves turned into cocktail bars as a backdrop for Zoom happy hours. Gaming took an old-school turn accommodating multi-generational interests. Board games and cards connected ages and served as innocent entertainment in an uncertain world.

Wellness Retreat
The occasional at-home workout went full-time for many in 2020. Consumers made space and invested in their home gym memberships. From live streaming workouts to investing in new connected fitness equipment, wellness took a priority role as consumers looked to combat the environmental realities of the pandemic and create balance.

A Home-Centered Lifestyle

Gone are the days of traditional single-use space. The home will become more adaptable and flexible for the future to come. With consumers renewed interest and newfound reno talents, we expect to see the home continue to take on personal expressions and family lifestyle extensions. A new home-centered lifestyle will thrive by choice and not by circumstance.

Craving more consumer insights? Learn how a new generation of consumers are searching for brands with purpose in our recent article, Gen Z: Retail’s New Conscious Consumers.

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