Home goods are a booming business – especially online. In recent years, a wide variety of factors have combined to make consumers rethink how they want to furnish their homes and have made brands (both manufacturers and retailers) rethink how to sell their products to those consumers. Despite some stiff competition, there’s never been a more exciting time to be selling & marketing home goods. However, to understand all the best ways to sell to a post-pandemic audience, you must understand that audience’s emotions and new practical needs. In the sections ahead, we’ll outline how home life has changed for many Americans, along with the trends for making online shopping a whole new experience. Finally, we’ll outline new technologies and marketing strategies that are helping brands connect to these consumers in deeper, more meaningful, and, yes – more profitable ways than ever before. Read on to learn the state of home goods in 2021 and what’s fueling the growth of so many online sales.
A Whole New Home
The pandemic has had an immediate impact on the way people live at home. For one thing, most people now spend a whole lot more time there. That fact alone has had dramatic ripple effects across the entire industry, from new everyday needs to more abstract effects on tastes, styles, and aesthetic preferences. To understand which home goods are selling and why it’s important to ground yourself in the new everyday reality of the homes themselves. The other big factor affecting home goods has been a slower-building one: the emerging dominance of the Internet in all areas of the home, not just the office. Combined with an expedited remote culture born from the pandemic, the Internet has quickly made occupants more connected to the outside world than ever before. By effect, the home itself has never been more connected to the outside world. Can the products you’re offering match the mood? Here are just a few areas of the home that have swiftly changed the context in just the past year:
The room where work theoretically always happens is suddenly where it actually does happen, thanks to the swift influx of remote work. People now use their home office for 8+ hours a day taking Zoom calls, writing reports, and, most strikingly – evading other family members, their significant others, or their roommates for a few moments of bliss (until they remember they’re also there to work). Today’s home office is significantly more lived-in than the ones from just two years ago, and a greater sense of ownership has become a priority for those who utilize it the most.
Chances are, kids’ rooms may see a lot more activity depending on where the home's located. In the same way, many jobs have gone remote, schooling has gone online for many across the country – even college in some cases. Today, a proper kid’s room goes beyond just space for homework & showcases a dual purpose – learning and unwinding, with optimally very little overlap between these two modes.
While outdoor dining & attractions may have taken a hit in the last year or so, at-home entertaining (amongst trusted friends) has taken off in popularity. Tables have gotten bigger, chairs have multiplied & gotten comfier, and clutter has been cleared for more space in backyards all across the country.
Finally, the place where much of that entertainment starts has also undergone a significant shift recently. For one thing, it’s getting used a lot more than it used to be, and with more considerable meal preparations in many cases. Families and roommates that used to dine separately now eat more meals together – along with more diversity of meals (the same thing gets boring fast when you have it more often). Technology has stepped in to make it all a little bit easier - with a sudden rise in smart refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and other appliances making it easier to prepare each feast. This is just a sample of the practical ways rooms in the home have changed. We’ll move into more specifics later, but by better understanding the new uses of all these rooms – and the needs of those using them – you’ll be in a better position to be genuinely helpful to your customers, and they’ll be more comfortable buying what you’re selling.
Furnishing Trends & The Home Goods That Help
Now that we’ve covered the altered uses for these spaces, it’s time to explore some of the trends that are reshaping them, along with the leading brands and products that are populating them like never before:
The trauma of recent events has pushed many away from the harsh brutalism & cold minimalism dominant across living spaces in recent years and led them to embrace a more cozy, comfortable aesthetic. However, Cottagecore isn’t all about nostalgia for Grandma’s home. While rustic comfort sets the tone, the aesthetic is completed by a touch of luxury – think antique candelabras, curated china (even better if the dishes don’t match), and carefully clashing patterns across the walls and floor. Naturally, the kitchen finds itself the center of the design landscape here, as the cottage come mood lends itself to a focus on things like gourmet apple pie, finished with fresh whipped cream & paired with a professional-grade decaf cappuccino (professional-grade espresso machines are selling well lately). Since many kitchens are getting more and more practical use these days, a trend that celebrates their finer uses makes a lot of sense.
More Is More
In light of fewer places to easily travel, maximalism has made a quick & sudden comeback – bringing all those places home at once with bold colors, ornate designs, and one-of-a-kind statements, all competing for your attention. Nowhere is this trend more apparent than in the living room and bedroom, where curtains, sofas, and, of course, the all-important headboard have all seen injections of big, splashy attitude. Understandably, exotic patterns and styles invoking far-away escapes have been a very big cornerstone of this trend. Customization has also been on the rise, with bold & colorful patterns painted directly onto the walls and even onto furniture, along with unique (possibly even homemade) statement pieces in every corner. Without a healthy personal touch that ties all these things together, maximalism is the kind of trend that can come off as random chaos. Considering this aspect, it makes even more sense that the living room & bedroom find themselves the highlight here, as they’re the places where many already feel encouraged to let their personalities shine the most.
Stylish Time Travelers
For those fantasizing over a more extreme escape than five vacations at once, vintage elements have made a swift and sudden comeback in the home, along with all the retro furniture and accessories that complete the illusion of simpler times. Unlike maximalism, however, a proper vintage style looking to evoke pre-pandemic times works best with simple designs, primary colors, and minimal fussiness. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with this trend. For instance – browsing curated lists of home goods to find the perfect blue lamp that matches your gem of a red, mid-century desk can feel like a treasure hunt. This leads us to the next point: a surprising room has become the epicenter of many homes’ vintage makeovers: the home office. With more and more time spent in a room that – for many – used to be barely occupied, a stylish vintage makeover has been just the ticket to make it feel like a real, professional office and a separate space from the rest of the home. In fact, when it’s applied to the home office, this may be the only trend on this list where comfort is not the priority. While finding the perfect chair to sit & spin in for 8 hours is certainly important, style leads the way here – we’re talking luxury furnishings and unique art for the background of all those Zoom meetings, along with vases, pen holders, and all the other desk accessories that complete the throwback vibes – aka a throwback to when you used to commute to work.
Different Kinds of Online Brands That Are Winning Big
Finally, the trend that ties all the others together – online shopping. It’s by far the most popular way most shoppers are making all of these post-pandemic makeovers happen. Online shopping has naturally had tremendous growth since early 2020. Currently, these are some of the biggest winners in the market, all for different reasons: Target - With triple, the online sales of its previous year, Target’s home goods alone have seen a 30% bump in popularity. Their biggest strength is providing well-priced home goods that can complete any makeover described above, especially for buyers who have already blown most of their redecorating budget on the big
stuff. Williams Sonoma - The go-to for cottage core furnishings announced a 30% increase in Q2 growth for 2021, as buyers have been drawn to the retailer’s elevated but achievable styles, as well as its push towards sustainability (a different kind of trend that should only be getting more popular in light of the looming climate crisis). Etsy - Forecasters for Fall 2021 are already calling Etsy one of the smartest stocks you can buy. It’s easy to see why – their online network of artisans from around the globe makes the kinds of home goods that complete any vintage or maximalist vision for the home. This is just a sampling of the online retailers helping make the trends above – as well as others – a reality for shoppers all across the country. But how are they all actually connecting with buyers? Read on for the most important section of all.
New Growth Through 2021 And Beyond
As we said, online retailers are having a stellar year for all the obvious reasons, but success wasn’t handed to any of them. Those that have boosted profits have also done so by adapting the quickest to a customer base more at home than ever before. Big innovations have paid off for many brands and retailers since the pandemic. Beyond that, the innovations coming next might just change the way home goods are sold forever:
AR is an example of a technology that evolved at the right time to significantly impact a newly-changed market. When adequately utilized for the purposes of sales, AR comes as close as possible to letting online consumers test out what they buy before they buy it. More than an excellent substitute for going into the store, in many cases, it can even be more helpful – helping the buyer directly visualize the product in their own spaces instead of simply bringing measurements and picturing the rest in their head. Right now, it’s tough to find an online retailer utilizing AR to greater success than Wayfair. In addition to the previous section’s list of winners, Wayfair is having a record-smashing year and currently ranks #7 on the list of online retailers for 2021, up from #12 in 2020. It’s a shocking statistic for a company whose primary sales are furniture. A large part of that success – specifically its jump five places up the list – has to be credited to its user-friendly AR component. By making this technology so convincing and so accessible to its shoppers, Wayfair achieved an instant edge over other big box retailers. With only the need for a smartphone, users can view their rooms complete with the desired item wherever they want, painting a shockingly accurate picture of the end result.
Much like AR helps customers bring the in-store experience of closely observing the desired purchase home, chatbots replicate the convenience of speaking to an in-store employee, all without having to leave the couch. While early versions of chatbots were clunky at best and sometimes so inept that they actually hurt sales, the latest models are responsive, intuitive, and actually learn with every interaction, making them feel almost human in many instances. When customers are able to have their questions about items answered quickly and easily, they’re more likely to buy the actual items. Any representative of a brand carries the image of that brand with them, and that includes virtual assistants. Retailers who have utilized these smoother-talking chatbots have seen more than profits rise; they’ve improved their brand image. There’s a large variety of chatbots to utilize when it comes to companies looking to enhance their digital presence. Still, MobileMonkey might be the smartest choice at the moment, especially for brands that are newer to the market. MobileMonkey is user-friendly for tech novices but offers deep customization for eventual scaling. It also works well in another huge area of growth – social media compatibility. MobileMonkey’s software makes it easy to implement your chatbot directly onto your company’s Facebook page and allows customers to interact via FaceBook Messenger. It can even answer questions via text message.
Customer Review Platforms
Far and away, in an online-first world, online customer reviews are your very best advertisements. There’s hardly a consumer in the country who buys something without checking reviews first. Just as importantly, Google uses the amount and quality of any seller’s reviews to determine who to rank higher. No matter what you’re selling, if customer reviews aren’t your biggest priority, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Of course, strict rules outline the ways in which you’re allowed to collect these reviews. If you’re caught buying fake ones for your products or don’t advertise the fact that you’re collecting reviews by providing free giveaways, your company could get in very serious trouble with the Federal Communications Commission before you’ve even sold a thing. On the other hand, if you’re transparent about giving away products in exchange for reviews, your customer reviews won’t necessarily scream trust to potential buyers. Most current customer review platforms operate on just this kind of free giveaway model. One that doesn’t, however, is Revioly, which is gaining industry attention for its highly innovative profit structure. Customers browse Revioly’s tightly-curated collecti