Navigating a homebody economy: How to reach the at-home consumer

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?

Navigating a homebody economy: How to reach the at-home consumer

Who is the at-home consumer?

Consumer spending has changed drastically over the past year because of Covid-19. Earlier last year we saw a boom in household supplies and food categories as quarantine lockdowns took effect, and this trend continued through 2020. Discretionary spending became a luxury for many as unemployment rose — hitting a high of 14.8% in April 2020 — and well into 2021, household-related items are still at the top of the shopping list, even for those still employed. With such drastic changes, businesses have 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?

Get to know your new audience

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.

Faraday recommends introducing third-party data into the mix, as it 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.

Explore the tactics Faraday uses to optimize brands' popular acquisition channels

Advertising to the homebody economy

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 brands sent out in 2020 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. (As for services that make executing direct mail campaigns a breeze, we’d recommend our premier direct mail partner, Poplar.)

But acquisition shouldn’t be the only focus here — retaining new customers can have an impact on your business that lasts beyond the days of Covid-19. Customer loyalty is an important aspect of the customer journey to hone in on at the moment because at-home consumers are flexible in their brand choices; they are ready to try new brands if it means more convenience or higher quality products.

Using propensity models to predict churn risks can be a great way to get ahead of any fickle customers. At the other end of the customer lifecycle, enticing newer customers to stick around with special promotions or deferred payment plans can increase the rate of repeat purchases and drive loyalty, especially since budgets are tighter than usual for some consumers during the pandemic.

At-home habits die hard

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.