The at-home consumer experience with time and space

Craig Rubens / April 2020 / Search, Video, Consumer Insights

Not so long ago the days felt, if not too short, at least orderly. There was a schedule that was dictated by the places we needed to be and the times we needed to be there. The pandemic has slowed everything down. School has been canceled, sports have been paused, and events have been rescheduled for a later date. Suddenly, many of us have more time on our hands to be with our loved ones and ourselves. As days at home have turned to weeks at home, many people are finding that they’re bored and anxious. Given the uncertainty of the future, people are looking for new ways to stay productive, fill the time, and maintain a sense of normality.

People are looking for ways to create structure and continue to engage in the activities that help them feel normal.

Our lives are now being lived within the confines of our homes. And we’re transforming our spaces to do more as our office, gym, school, restaurant, and entertainment center. People are looking for ways to create structure and continue to engage in the activities that help them feel normal.

Looking for entertainment

Confinement can get boring and push people to explore new distractions. We’ve been observing a trend toward slower, simpler, more traditional activities. By the end of March, global search interest in “puzzles” and “coloring books” had increased considerably.1

Chief among these resurgent pastimes has been the rise of home baking. Search interest for “how to bake bread” took off globally in early March. And brands are helping at-home bakers recreate some of their iconic, and previously secret, recipes. Disney Parks released the recipe for its churro bites for fans to attempt at home. And DoubleTree by Hilton revealed its signature cookie recipe for the first time. Even IKEA got in on the trend by publishing its famous Swedish meatballs recipe, complete with an on-brand recipe card. With many of us staying at home, these brands have found ways to be top of mind in our kitchens.

Establishing fitness routines

With gyms and playgrounds closed, people are looking for other activity options to keep them moving while staying indoors. YouTube search interest in Spain for estiramientos en casa (stretching in the house), search interest in the U.K. for dumbbell set,” 2 and search interest for home workout videos grew more than 50% globally.3

For many, a more fluid schedule is the perfect time to try a new fitness regime, so brands are making it easy for restless consumers to sign up. FitBit is offering its premium app for free for 90 days, as is Peloton. Fitness brands are also adjusting their creative to match the moment. Dick’s Sporting Goods has a new spot featuring video snippets of people playing sports at home.

Re-creating school

For millions of parents, nothing has been more disruptive to predictable schedules than school closures. The new at-home school reality has sent these freshly deputized teachers searching for help. Search interest is rising in Germany for schul cloud (online collaboration for schools) and even YouTube search interest for sonnerie ecole (school bells) in France.4

For the kids, at-home schooling means the cancellation of field trips, sports seasons, graduations, and school dances. To help recognize the athletic achievements of high school teams with seasons cut short, ESPN has been hosting a regular Senior Night broadcast. The program highlights seniors, giving them a virtual victory lap to help celebrate a successful high school career. And to help the class of 2020 re-create prom at home, actor John Krasinski hosted a virtual prom on his “Some Good News” YouTube show, featuring special guests Billie Eilish, Jonas Brothers, Chance the Rapper, and Rainn Wilson.

This blurring of time and collapsing of schedules means people are looking for ways to regain control and establish normalcy. Brands who can help break the monotony, create routines, and celebrate special events, big or small, will keep their fans engaged and create new ones.

Will social distancing accelerate a trend toward home as headquarters?