Consumers today are focusing on their living spaces in ways they weren’t before the pandemic. The home has been redefined as sanctuary, workplace, schoolroom, entertainment hub, shopping mall and more, significantly changing daily routines and rituals.
Consumers are doing more cooking at home (cited by 61% of global respondents), eating meals with family (48%) and planning meals in advance. The way they shop for the home has changed dramatically: they have increased buying products in family size to reduce shopping trips (cited by 44% of global respondents), choosing long shelf-life products to keep the pantry stocked (43%), as well as shopping for groceries online (cited by 53%) and getting grocery shopping and takeaway food delivered (38% and 37%).
Nearly a third (31%) say they are working at home more – and half expect to continue to do so either more or about the same. Companies including Google, Twitter and Microsoft have all announced plans to allow for total or partial remote-working post-pandemic. With home-working rising, and many tired of the same four walls or in need of more space, consumers are reconsidering where they live. In the US, nearly half (49%) of adults aged 18-34 have moved or have considered moving due to the pandemic between March and November 2020.
In particular, there are signs of a new migration away from big cities to rural areas and smaller towns, in the developed world at least. Meanwhile, those that are staying put are improving their homes, with 45% of global respondents saying they are decluttering, organising and planning more since the pandemic. Some are going further – in the US, for example, 17% of consumers have undertaken home improvement projects, around half (53%) of which they have undertaken themselves. By and large, they seem to be happy with the results. “People have adapted and made their homes better for themselves,” says Mary Lunghi, Country consumer and customer insights manager for Ikea in the US. “[In recent research…] the majority of people’s comments about their houses are positive with ‘comfortable’, ‘clean’, ‘safe’, ‘good’ and ‘sanctuary’ at the top. This is an improvement from [research at the] onset of the pandemic where we saw a much greater split between positive and negative.”
Meanwhile, home demographics have shifted, with a sharp rise in multigenerational households. One survey in September 2020 found that at least 12% of the UK population are adults who had moved back in with their parents as a result of the pandemic – and more than two-thirds of those had no moveout date in sight. Attitudes to the spaces around homes are changing too. People are looking more to gardens and other outdoor spaces where they can entertain safely – and grow their own food. Last April, Google searches for “how to grow vegetables” hit record highs. And people are looking to their local communities more. “The definition of home is changing,” says architect Tara Gbolade, co-founder of a London architecture practice specialising in sustainable design. “It’s beyond our individual homes and rear gardens – [it’s] the streets in front of us, the communities and the neighbours that we’ve spent years living next to but never spoken to.”