Zeitgeist of Now: Home is where more than the heart is #coronavirusSA
by Jason Stewart (@HaveYouHeard_SA) Our relationship with our homes is changing again, shifting from ‘making our homes nice’ to making them the centre of everything we do. This has important implications for brands.
A dry and warm place to sleep and prepare food — somewhere safe and familiar — has always been one of humankind’s most-basic needs. In addition, the conceptual difference between ‘home’ and ‘house’ is long understood. Over the past few decades, however, the home has climbed the ladder of importance for status and identity.
It’s became the place to put your mark on, to make a representation of who you are, to showcase your status level to others. Then it became a refuge, a place where, if you don’t exactly hide away from the increasing stressors of the world, that where you rejuvenate and ‘cocoon’. Most recently, it’s become the centre of our lives. This is (no surprise here) being spurred on by the convergence of one of the most-important macro trends — technology — together with the new lifestyle forced upon us by the covid-19 pandemic.
And this convergence is impacting everything; from where our home is to the environment within it and to what we do, to who lives in the home with us, to how we spend money from it, in it and on it as the convenience of technology allows us to stay inside our homes for longer and to spend more money from within.
Ecommerce (eg Takealot) and new services (eg Checkers Sixty60) allow us to shop from within. Entertainment may be streamed in via Netflix (which added 10m new subscribers in first quarter of 2020 — the most ever), YouTube or Twitch. Exercise may be shared via Paleton or YouTube.
Alexa and other voice assistants are entering our homes, too, listening to all we say and activating according to instruction. Zoom and other software have, for some time now, allowed us to work without leaving home, but the novel coronavirus has made it culturally acceptable.
Comfort and safety
While tech has made most things in the home easier, cheaper, more convenient and more pleasurable, covid-19 has impacted our homes in other ways, most notably causing us to seek out more comfort and safety. For example, hard lockdown provided people with time to work on and think about their homes, and prompted a boom of home-cooking, gardening and gaming while ignoring the other mandatories of home-schooling, cleaning, and so on.
Our normal rituals and habits have been changing as well, as the lines separating work and play are further blurring and leading to new habits such as playing music loudly after my ‘work day’ finishes, rather than slumping into a couch for calm disconnection.
With mental health being knocked and anxiety levels rising, nature is becoming the fast go-to for calming our emotions: not only in bringing plants into the house, or starting small gardens, but in colour tone as well. Home is our safe refuge where we don’t even need to wear a mask
While Zoom has brought the world into your home, the view you offer this new audience is certainly becoming more curated as it’s part of the story you tell others about your fuller life and the status you gain from it.
Status purchases have also been shifting to comfort, security and convenience. Fashion is moving from looking good to feeling good at home. Those expensive sneakers are no longer as important as a new duvet set.
Yet there are negatives, too. Downsizing and minimalism aren’t just reasonable approaches to simplifying life; they’re an unfortunate necessity as people can no longer afford their homes. This has led to an increase in multi-generational homes, where kids are staying longer and parents or grandparents are coming back. Multi-generational homes have different purchasing behaviour and decision-making processes. More heritage is involved in the decision and more value is sought as product needs to be stretched. Finally, in some instances, stress levels increase when the family size doesn’t allow for privacy or individual space, which is often the case in South Africa.
Staycations are also becoming more popular. Fears regarding travel and financial issues mean people are spending more on home entertainment such as trampolines, braais and portable pools, wi-fi, entertainment subscriptions, baking equipment, etc. The societal downside of this trend is that it ultimately leads to more individualism and separation of community, resulting in more tribalism, with less real-world experiences and engagement with others, and more online sub-cultures and small networks of closed groups.
As home consumption is going to be more and more prevalent, finding ways for your brand to fit in into new rituals, occasions and purchase behavior is going to be central to future brand communication and engagement.
- Columns | Zeitgeist of Now – Jason Stewart
- #OpenForBusiness — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA – Special Section
Jason Stewart is co-founder of HaveYouHeard (@HaveYouHeard_SA), a full-service agency. Zeitgeist of Now, his new column on MarkLives, is inspired by the agency’s proprietary tool developed to understand the invisible but powerful forces that influence people, products, culture and societies. If we appreciate these, he argues, we become more-effective marketers.
This MarkLives #CoronavirusSA special section contains coverage of how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its resultant disease, covid-19, is affecting the advertising, marketing and related industries in South Africa and other parts of Africa, and how we are responding. Updates may be sent to us via our contact form or the email address published on our Contact Us page. Opinion pieces/guest columns must be exclusive.