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Homing In - Location, Vocation, Vacation

Rebecca Broomfield, Director of Consumer & Hospitality at Speed Communications and Dr Simon Moore, a trained psychologist and CEO of behavioural psychology consultancy Innovationbubble explore how COVID-19 has changed our relationships with our homes and how to use this insight to win with consumers.

>> Download the full report here <<

At the turn of the year, none of us could have predicted how much time we would be spending in our homes and how the lockdown experience would fundamentally change our expectations of them. Before lockdown, 70% of Brits had never worked from home or even contemplated home-schooling, so a space to work was not high on the priority list for most. Consequently, the move to open-plan, free form living space has come under scrutiny, with some questioning if it is best for family living when everyone is at home at the same time.  

Those sunny days in April when we were still only allowed one outside trip a day made us all truly appreciate the physical and mental importance of outdoor space with google search data showing a 1000% increase in searches for hot tubs, 500% for outdoor kitchens and even a resurgence in interest in the outdoor toilet.

Lockdown also saw us all embrace DIY as staring at the same walls saw small annoyances turn to essential fixes with Kingfisher group reporting like-for-like sales at 21.6% compared to 2019. Where a spot of DIY didn’t go deep enough consumers have sought more permanent change with the property market experiencing a mini-boom as consumers seek a home better suited to their new normal.

These functional changes in the home provide obvious opportunities for brands and businesses to consider new target audiences and products, with features that have previously been for the privileged, like homes offices and gyms, likely to become more mainstream. But it’s the changing emotional relationship consumers have with their homes that provides the key to gaining competitive advantage.

The importance of emotion 

Science has shown that the emotional part of our brain is five times bigger than the part that deals with facts and figures. Simply put, this means that marketing which is based on what the target consumer is thinking and feeling will command five times the attention.

So, what are consumers thinking and feeling about their homes right now? The home used to be a place of sanctuary and safety but has become a place where we feel trapped so has morphed somewhat psychologically towards that of a prison.

Equally, reduced time in the office has had a significant impact because it is a place where we are respected for our intelligence, creativity and ability to deliver in a team; a place where we are more than parents or partners. Without the office fuelling this psychological need, the home has evolved to become a major driver of ego fulfilment which explains the rise in sales and searches in home improvement and searches for luxury items. These items provide the visual cues needed to feel successful.  

How can you use this insight to supercharge your marketing

1. Get to the heart of what your consumer wants and needs

The last 30 years and three Nobel Prize winners have demonstrated that human decisions (including consumers) are more influenced by non-conscious factors (90%) than conscious ones (10%). So ASKING consumers why they do something will only yield 10% of the truth. This is one area that brands really need to invest in. Those brands that seem to be weathering the storm have already invested in understanding the non-conscious things that influence their customers

2. Consider the role for your brand and product in meeting consumers emotional needs 

Consider engagement campaigns that build a relationship at a brand level to engage your target audience on an emotional level. Brands need to reframe their offerings in terms away from how great they are towards what they can do for the consumer. How can you help the customer meet their needs? How do you help them feel more in control? How do you make them feel more connected?

3. Evaluate the channels you are using to communicate to your audience

PR is a powerful channel to consider because it taps into several areas of the brain that are associated with persuasion. PR creates memorable and distinguishable communications that engage at an emotional level. Secondly, PR offers intrinsic social proof because it is an earned channel. Its flexibility allows messaging to be nuanced to appeal to different psychological needs in your target audience

4. Make sure social listening is part of your strategy 

As we continue to move through an industry-wide period of unprecedented change paying attention to the wider online conversation surrounding your business and its sector has become more important than ever. 

Harnessing sentiment tracking as part of social listening will provide you with a rolling assessment of your audience’s mood and brand/industry perceptions – this will help you create tailored messaging to reflect these trends and also leverage the latest trends before they reach a commercial peak.

5. Invest in brand building

In June last year the Financial Times, in association with the IPA, published an interesting report titled ‘The Board – Brand Rift, how business leaders have stopped building brands.’ The most interesting outtake was the gradual shift in marketing investment, from long-term brand-building to shorter-term direct response campaigns. 

In the current climate, brand building is more critical than ever because a powerful brand is the foundation of emotion-led marketing. Brand building by its very nature harnesses the power of psychology to differentiate in the market, drive trust and loyalty. 

Consumers are more focused on their home environment than ever before and crucially, are prepared to invest to make it a nicer place to be. Now is the opportunity for brands to consider how they are going to make the most of this opportunity.

>> Download the full report here <<

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