Could the home be an extension to the brand experience?
The COVID-19 pandemic has given retail a rare opportunity to stop and consider what we want the future of retail to become. Yet, while we wait for life to return to normal, we have seen two fundamental shifts in our attitudes and behaviour an increased sense of empathy for others and protection for ourselves. On the other side of this pandemic retail will need to respond to these new needs of customers and find innovative new ways to create brand experiences. We have identified several areas of emerging attitudes and have outlined how they lead to exciting opportunities in retail in a series of articles.
Could the home be an extension to the brand experience?
The most apparent change to daily life is adapting to living within the confines of our own home. For many, this has brought a combination of frustration and security. There is an appetite and appreciation for the comfort that our home brings, whether it's the presence of family or a familiarity of our surroundings, our home brings certainty and control to us. The necessity to spend all our time at home brings several fundamental shifts to our lifestyle. While most behaviours will likely return to the way they were, many will remain once life finds normality.
Most of us won't wish to use our homes for all our activities, but we have experienced that we can. Many more people will wish to work from home occasionally or do some exercise in their living room if needs be. Despite many of us returning to offices for work, we might leave this period with a new appreciation that redefines work-life balance and integrates the two seamlessly. There will be a ubiquitous nature to work that we haven't seen before. As many of our tasks merge, so too does the place we inhabit to perform them as we become more balanced in our use of time, along with our use of space.
The DIY or DIFH (Do It From Home) culture has expanded the possibilities for people to learn new things and perform tasks they would have usually outsourced. Many people will revert to buying bread and coffee rather than making it. Still, some have found joy and relaxation in tasks they would never have considered such as gardening, cooking or home improvements. Without a doubt, when we arrive in the new normal, we won't want many of these self-driven activities to leave our lives.
WHAT THE FUTURE MIGHT HOLD….
Visceral Experiences Brought to the Home
Could we create more immersive brand experiences in the home by engaging our other senses? Most of our current branded experiences are essentially two dimensional. At home brands primarily communicate through the visual and audio, and hardly ever through scent, taste or touch. What if they all worked together from your living room? What could a brand send you to smell and touch in preparation for a scheduled video or online experience? Finding a way to bring visceral branded experiences to the customer could bring experiential retail to far-reaching audiences in the future. Many remote customers outside of city centres, who currently aren't able to experience the best of retail and brand experiences could interact with brands in ways they never could have expected before. Could we use this lockdown period as a driver to increase the scale and spread of experiential retail?
A Personalised Tutorial
Online learning from home is nothing new. We already knew we could turn to YouTube or Masterclass to acquire a new skill. Yet one-to-one live video tutorials would be another step of personalisation that many consumers seek. This new-found DIY (DIFH) culture might mean retailers sell expertise as core product rather than something they use to add value or differentiate themselves as experts. We are already seeing John Lewis provide a 'virtual expert' service to customers seeking personal tutorials. These new interactions are driven by our desire for unique and personal experiences. We no-longer just want to buy a product but see the value in acquiring knowledge in the process. Consumer’s need for transformational experiences is an extension to many pre-existing trends and is the ultimate culmination of the experience economy.
The New Tupperware Party
We've seen so many places merge with the home: the gym, the office, the school. Is it so unthinkable to also see the retail store in our own abode? Or even become it? The idea of people endorsing products and selling them to friends in a home is as old as the Tupperware party. Brands already understand the power of influencer-marketing and the superior trust we have in peer endorsement. While many people might view the concept of a Tupperware Party as antiquated, selling products via social networks at home continues to expand and has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social gatherings selling products are mostly pre-planned and driven by a desire for socialisation and community, but could these events be more spontaneous and integrated into our regular social lives? We have the technology to purchase anything, anytime from anywhere, so it seems logical the best place to buy a portable speaker, is the moment you were so impressed by it in the home of your friend. Could our private social gatherings be sponsored? We can imagine a future where you can host a ‘Sonos’ party in your home and you receive special brand benefits, exclusive products or even payment for your efforts.
Although not by choice, we are spending much more time in our home. For many, it brings a level of comfort and security that is much needed during a time of crisis. As we are using the home for multiple purposes, many of us doing things around the house we would have never imagined or attempted previously. Retail can respond by bringing experiential retail to the home and allowing people to use all their senses for brand experiences. Retail can provide the knowledge people need to acquire new skills. In some ways, the home can develop to become a retail store itself.
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