Tuesday 02 June, 2020

 With 87% of the UK population claiming to have followed the Government’s lockdown guidance either completely or nearly all the time, it’s little wonder that Britain’s time spent at home over April and May rose by an average of 20-25%.  

And it has clearly made us think differently about the places in which we live. A report by the Office of National Statistics confirmed that there was a substantial increase in the time spent gardening and doing DIY during lockdown – up by 147% to 39 minutes per day.   

Across the world consumers have been investing a vastly increased proportion of their income on home improvements. For those countries further ahead on the journey out of lockdown, including China, numbers of people moving home are starting to surge. This means opportunity is on the horizon for many businesses.  

This new focus on the home means that the big names who operate in the home improvement sector will be the front runners. The sector is set to experience exponential growth; however, that growth will only be realised if those at the helm look at the psychological needs of their customers as opposed to what they can sell to them. 

How do I know this? Weber Shandwick’s global consultancy network means we are privy to realtime data and insights from across the world, including China. Our colleagues in the country are sharing unique evidence and insights into the different stages of consumer optimism across continents, all of which are at different phases of the pandemic – outbreak, quarantine, recovery.  

As of 20 March, 48% of people in China were optimistic about economic recovery compared to 23% in the UK at that same time. Looking at the short, medium and longterm needs of populations, our team in China found that searches and procurement of renovation services are rising, with no sign of tailing off.  

That may be because even when recovery begins, our lives might look quite different. Business leaders around the world are revaluating their need for large offices and car park leases because the pandemic has taught them that home-working is possible. This in turn will have a profound impact on consumer buying behaviour as they decide to alter their living environment to accommodate these new homeworking requirements. But it won’t be as easy for retailers as “you need a desk, we sell them, come to us.”   

The psychology of it all will be a challenge for brands who operate in this space. And careful considerations will have to be made on how they communicate in this new world. Brand equity is at stake; therefore, a renewed appreciation of behavioural psychology is a must before they embark on what will be their biggest sales quarter in history.