Thought Leadership

FROM HOUSE TO HOME

Jen Popa
Design Director

October 2nd, 2020

Feeling at home has been an everlasting value for consumers across generations and cultures. From Victorian-era rules on the proper etiquette of inviting and being invited to someone’s home to today’s more casual approach to getting together, welcoming others into our homes serves as an integral component to our sense of safety and connection. As the ways we live continue to evolve, our approach to organizing and filling our homes have been subject to change as well.
Cozy Up

90 percent of Americans are estimated to spend close to 22 hours inside every day, according to YouGov data. When considering the rise in streaming services, delivery apps, and subscription services along with the sedentary lifestyle of most office workers, that figure becomes less of a surprise. As consumers understand the implications of living primarily indoors in terms of physical and emotional health, home products have been evolving to support consumers with their well-being and mental health. One way we’re seeing this trend play out is in the rise and evolution of cozy comforts.

For example, while weighted blankets were originally used as therapeutic tools for children with severe anxiety, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), these blankets have risen to mass-market popularity in recent years because they create the feeling of being held or swaddled. Consumers swear by these blankets’ effects which include decreasing anxiety, promoting calmness and relaxation, and improving quality of sleep. Gravity, a brand whose successful 2016 Kickstarter campaign positioned them as a leader in the weighted blanket market, has since expanded to sleep masks and pillows indicating that their upwards momentum shows no sign of coming down.

Other home hardgoods are cozying up as well. A rise in new products that utilize soft, tactile materials on traditionally hard exteriors convey an approachable, comforting feel to consumers. For home tech products such as the Google Home speaker, Nest Thermostat E, and HP Tango X printer, this softer approach helps tech feel more relatable and human.

Whether it’s to soothe the anxiety of adulthood, combat winter blues, or simply make homes into inviting spaces, home products have a clear role in helping consumers make the most of their time spent indoors.

Prioritizing The Appearance of The Home

“71% of consumers feel their home reflects their personal style and consequently appear to want to project the best image. Many are willing to invest in quality, but that doesn’t always equate to brand names or a desire to speak with an expert. Instead, many are doing more online shopping and are looking for tools to make shopping that channel easier.”

Mintel, “Shopping for Home Décor – US”, July 2018

Premium & Minimal Design

Turning mundane items into integrated, beautiful pieces that are a part of your home has become the basis for many household brands. The designs of these products take on a similar look and feel: minimal.

“Minimal” has become synonymous with “premium” when we consider the home products and brands that embody this relationship such as Nest, Molekule, and Simplehuman, particularly its line of $100 trash cans.

While this cost may be extravagant to some, Simplehuman took what used to be a room’s eyesore and designed it to not only have functional features like voice and motion sensors, but also look as integrated as any premium appliance. With soft curves and an uninterrupted metal exterior (available even in rose gold), the aesthetic and overall feel is simply premium.

Cultural shifts, global changes, and the ever-growing “less is more” attitude may all have an impact on the consumer’s willingness to spend more for quality. Smaller living spaces where more products are on display and have a greater presence may lead the consumer to opt for sleek simplicity over cluttered graphics and cheap materials. Whatever the reason, it is clear minimal design is making its mark in the home environment.

MODULAR FUNCTIONS

Evolving behavioral trends in homes and workplaces have spurred a demand for flexibility, dynamic home office spaces, and functionality in small spaces. As a consequence, modular systems, whether for electronics, storage, or the actual home itself, have never been more popular.

Products that are reconfigurable and have the ability to grow and adapt to the consumer’s changing lifestyle to solve a critical need, particularly for city dwellers. As Millennials continue to stay in cities, space is at a premium. One example is LoveSac’s Sactional which consumers can buy as individual pieces that can be reconfigured to many shapes and sizes.

The rise of adults who are renting and will continue to rent has also maximized the need for movable, evolving, and customizable products. For these consumers, modular and often multi-functional products are smart, inexpensive, and portable solutions. In other words, modular furniture is not only utilitarian but also has the power to transform spaces into ideal resting, dining, studying, or working areas. Urbio, a brand whose modular magnetic wall panel system can be used to store anything from office supplies to plants adapts with consumers as their needs or spaces change.

Brands creating reconfigurable and modular systems that consumers implement in their own ways not only serves as a customized solution but also establishes a loyal and collaborative relationship between brand and consumer.

THE WAY WE SHOP

Consumers are shopping online now more than ever and while new brands are quick to respond, established brands that are slow to move have suffered. Nowhere is that more evident than when shopping for a mattress.

While formally stale, the mattress category has been roused from its slumber by new players. Newer brands like Casper, Avocado, Tuft & Needle, and Leesa have emerged with one main point of difference: understanding and catering to how contemporary consumers shop.

For example, Casper transformed the way the mattress enters the home by shipping it in a box, but has also pushed the seemingly mundane experience of unboxing the mattress into a memorable, share-worthy experience. In fact, Casper even encourages consumers to document the unboxing experience.

Companies that forego merchandising in brick-and-mortar retailers for a strong online presence know that once customers make a product a part of their everyday lives, whether they know it or not, they’re far less likely to return it and go through the hassle of shipping the product back.

Having consumers come to the company website also allows the brand to connect and communicate with its customers in a more meaningful way than they would at shelf. Brands are understanding more and more how their consumers shop, leading these companies to not only grow into billion-dollar brands, but also enable the underdogs to lead in their categories.

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