Two weeks ago we asked ourselves what we thought of the future of the home – with brands taking on an active role in our private spaces, what are the implications for us as consumers? These are some of our favourite answers to some of the questions that we brainstormed during our Trends meeting:
1. How will the perception of the home as a private space change as brands enter our personal ‘sanctuary’?
In many ways smart home assistants, such as Google Home and Alexa will become the gatekeepers to brands entering our homes, potentially choosing the food brands we add to our basket, the travel company we book or the media brands we use. Any brand not integrated to work with these systems has the potential to be barred from the home. And can we trust that our AI devices have our interests over that of sponsored content? The line between personalised suggestions and overt advertising is becoming finer.
2. Tech has conventionally been seen as a disruptor to family time. However, if it’s ‘invisible’ within our homes (e.g smart walls, floors and screens) does it change how we feel about digital detox?
One of our trends, Casual Connectivity, is the story of how technology is making itself less interruptive. While we want to be eternally connected and contactable if needed – we also do not want to be overwhelmed by unnecessary notifications or interruptions. Even if technology is invisible, concern about its insidious effects, from notification anxiety to brain-frazzling techwaves, remain. In a home where tech is pervasive, there will be even more options for on/off spaces in the house or even ‘blackout’ switches. We have tracked many an innovation that addresses the desire for digital detox – one of our most memorable favourites was the Dolmio Pepper Hacker that could shut down all technological devices to force a device-free family dinner. The demand for such things will only increase as anxiety about the possible side effects of technology heightens.
3. How attached are we to physical things, especially when AR is introduced into our homes? In the home of the future, what is the next object to die? And what will the trophies be?
From looking at our Romantic Minimalist trend, the Home of the Future will be about quality and as little clutter as possible when it comes to technology and physical objects. Photos and physical albums may not find a stable place in our future homes when smart screens easily display pictures taken on our latest holiday or at a big event, without us having to actively change it. The consequence of a successful auto-replenishment service could even lead to the decline of fridges – if we are constantly receiving fresh produce daily, do we need to invest in expensive coolers?
As for the trophies of the future, we have seen the revival of vinyl because of its humble brag appeal – what better way to show off both your music taste and nostalgia. TVs, as mentioned in our first article on the Home of the Future, are likely to live on as they invite a social aspect into the living space, whereas solo viewership is mainly reserved for watching on-demand videos or guilty pleasure TV. Other prized items include plants (for those of us that don’t have the time or space for a pet) and pseudo-ornamental coffee table books that speak to our interests and identity.
4. Due to the functionality of the home of the future, will we ever want to leave our homes? What will affect the success of the all-inclusive space that our homes will become?
In our consumer spending forecast for leisure in the Eurozone, we see an average of €3501 billion will be spent on in-home leisure by the end of this year, which is predicted to stay on the rise. However, in contrast to this, expenditure on out-of-home leisure will be significantly higher at €17,776 billion in 2017. We can see that although people are investing more in at-home entertainment than they have in previous years, they will continue to seek leisure beyond their private space. Perhaps it is due to smaller homes in urban areas forcing consumers to spend more time and money outside; nevertheless, the Home of the Future is unlikely to alter the course of our leisure spending habits. The competition between in home and out of home remains: as the home adds functionality, so out of home concocts more marvellous things to tempt us out.
We should also consider the accessibility of home ownership as renters are unlikely to invest heavily in a transitory place. 89% of UK consumers believe that as a first time buyers to the housing market, it is incredibly difficult to purchase a house, which is echoed globally with 80% of people in agreement. Unless the virtual relationship between us and our AI technology is somehow saved, for example via cloud, and can therefore move with us as we change homes, the Home of the Future may not be so attractive or even available to non-homeowners.
5. The risk from cyber attacks is increasing, especially if the software meant to protect us does not keep up with the rate of which connected technology is entering our everyday lives (think of the NHS hack). Therefore, at what stage do we allow convenience to trump our perceived sense of security?
Globally, the perceived risks felt by consumers are mainly financial hardship, and in certain countries terrorism. However, cyber threats are low on the radar with an average of just 19% feeling personally at risk. If the technology involved in the Home of the Future was to catch on quickly and become widely adopted, the necessity for better education around how to decrease potential risk when using new tech would increase too. Products or services that require installation in particular would come equipped with information concerning security measures, and we foresee that insurance would play a significant factor in ensuring corporate responsibility when it comes to transparency around compromised data or hacks. It would also encourage users take precautions to protect themselves better against cyber attacks to avoid expensive premiums.
Interested in hearing us speak? Vote for our panel on the Home of the Future at South By Southwest (SXSW)
Read the first part of the article here