Is the home the ultimate brand interface?

future home
type - trends
sector - media & technology
sector - retail
Consumers are opening their doors to brands and retailers, allowing interaction at every touchpoint of their private space. Rachael Stott, senior strategic futures analyst at The Future Laboratory, examines the key strategic take-outs from our new macrotrend, Home States Futures: Residential Retail

No longer purely a physical space to inhabit or provide shelter, the meaning of ‘home’ is evolving, and the domestic space is being pushed to cater for a multitude of needs. In the West, remote working remains widely adopted by many, and when considered alongside new models of family and co-habiting as well as recent technological advances, ‘home’ is now reaching far beyond the four walls. 

Our latest macrotrend, Home States Futures: Residential Retail, explores how the home is becoming a multi-faceted hub, giving brands more expansive routes to connect and engage with the people within them. Given that consumers are spending more time here post-lockdown, with UK consumers spending 66 more minutes on average at home every day compared to pre-lockdown in 2020 – a total of 18 hours and 43 minutes daily  according to IPA TouchPoints 2023 – opportunities are ripe. 

Looking ahead to 2024, brands should view the home as the ultimate interface to build meaningful connections. It is the safe space in which people’s most personal routines, moments, wants and needs occur, giving rise to multiple moments in the day for brands to be present and supportive across a plethora of mediums, touchpoints and experiences. 

Although consumers are looking to elevate the domestic experience through the likes of augmented entertainment and concierge healthcare, brands must be cautious about their impact on these intimate spaces. They should harness empathy and technology to ensure their presence is integrated, not intrusive, and be respectful of boundaries, with the aim to reduce friction in the day-to-day rather than increasing the noise.  

With this in mind, Residential Retail is not designed to isolate people in their homes, but instead to use the home as a central hub to forge new connections. Fourth Space Commerce demonstrates how decentralising brand operations to a community level fosters in-person interactions, and by investing in digital channels that replicate the same exchanges, brands can facilitate a sense of belonging and home via the screens and online communities people engage with. 

Published by:

7 December 2023

Author: Rachael Stott

Image: Andres Ayrton


Polina Tankilevitch

Strategic recommendations 

Be a respectful data partner: Consumers understand the value of sharing data, but privacy and ethical concerns persist, especially in private spaces. To be trusted and welcomed in, brands must integrate honest and respectful feedback loops, using opportunities to learn and improve, but with transparency and authenticity on safeguarding and compensation for sharing intimate data. 

Prioritise cohesion in the brand journey: Define how creative brand-building can be embedded into the in-home customer journey when it is outside of your brand’s ‘owned’ environments. Ensure each touchpoint is cohesive in delivering a meaningful and enriching brand experience that feels integrated into the home rather than intrusive. 

Reposition customer service teams: Adopt policies to enable sales associates to work from home. Live-streaming, virtual showrooms and online consultations are providing ways to engage meaningfully with customers remotely and are highly influential marketing channels from which to drive and deliver sales.  

Foster socialisation: To combat the disappearance of third spaces and aid people seeking in-person connections, create opportunities for consumers to connect and engage in their local communities. Like Pickme and Vrienden, integrate consumers into brand operations and reward them for their engagement. 

Behave like an Elastic Brand:  Brands must resist linear and generalised marketing and CX, instead developing the ability to shape-shift and adapt to meet multiple, nuanced and contradictory needs in the same space, matching consumers’ more fluid and agile lifestyles. 

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