Consumer spending has changed drastically during the pandemic. We saw a boom in household supplies and food categories as quarantine lockdowns took effect, and the trend continued through 2020. Discretionary spending became a luxury for many as unemployment rates hit reached nearly 15% in April 2020. With such drastic changes, businesses had to shift their tactics and appeal to a new type of audience: the at-home consumer, who is fueling the “homebody economy.”
As the name suggests, these are the consumers who are spending the majority of their time at home. They’re likely working remotely, and certainly making most of their purchases online. Because of this, e-commerce has taken center stage for retailers, forcing brands that hadn’t implemented strong consumer-facing digital strategies before 2020 to adapt quickly.
But this adaptation goes beyond setting up an e-commerce platform — many businesses have adjusted their digital strategies to understand the swaths of new customers coming in the door and reel in at-home consumers with more personalized ads. And now consumers expect better online experiences, with 68% saying they have higher expectations of brands' digital abilities since the start of the pandemic. So, how can brands deliver?
The adage “Know your audience” has never been more relevant, with somewhat unpredictable consumer trends changing the audiences brands may have thought were set in stone. As more consumers were forced to shop online because of the pandemic (e-commerce now makes up 16.1% of all U.S. sales, up from 11.8% in the first quarter of 2020) businesses everywhere encountered unexpected customers.
To provide the enjoyable customer experience people expect, marketers need to dig into their customer data to better understand who they’re serving. Personalization isn’t just about meeting the expectations of the customers you already know and love — you’ve got to capture (and retain) the interest of these new customers, too.
Leveraging responsibly sourced consumer data can help round out brands’ understanding of their customers and aid in personalization efforts that go beyond web-based activity. By enhancing customer profiles, third-party data also bolsters targeted marketing strategies by making segmentation by customer type or persona more precise.
When executing targeted marketing strategies, an omnichannel approach is more necessary than ever. Right now, brands have the chance to get in front of consumers they may never otherwise engage with because so many marketing channels are in play.
Between social media, OTT, and digital ads, brands should be capitalizing on the availability of the at-home consumer audience. Consumers’ media consumption is at a high, opening up lucrative marketing opportunities — not because there’s necessarily more ad space, but because there are more eyes on screens these days.
Radio and podcast ads aren’t out of the question either — though not as many people are commuting to work, Nielsen reported that 75% of people say they listen to music during the workday, and 40% of those listeners do daily. In light of this, brands should consider including placing ads where their audiences tune in.
As for offline marketing channels, direct mailers are a great way to deliver personalized promotions to the at-home consumer — at home. It’s been reported that 70% of mailers that were personalized in some way as marketers vied for consumers’ attention. They were even integrated into digital strategies: QR code usage in direct mailers rose 69% in 2020 from 2019, making attribution easier for brands relying on mailers to convert customers online.
Even as Covid-19 vaccinations become more widely available and businesses are able to return to previous modes of operation and capacity, the shift to a homebody economy is most likely here to stay. According to McKinsey, 3 out of 4 Americans have tried new shopping habits (changed brands, stores, or way of engaging) and intend to stick with them after the pandemic. So, businesses must continue to adapt because meeting the customer where they are is more urgent than ever before.