Are Designer Pots the New Must-Have Handbags?
When #StayHome started trending last March, few of us realised that the effects of lockdown would still be rippling through our society nearly 12 months later. In the last year, we’ve seen our homes turn from shelter and sanctuary to busy, multifunctional workspaces, classrooms, gyms, restaurants… the list has become as endless as the rule changes.
With this increased reliance on the home come newfound consumer demands, which open up a wealth of opportunities for the brands we bring through our front door. And it seems we’re willing to spend whatever it takes to ensure our demands are met –– and our investments showcased for the world to see.
With nowhere other than the supermarket to drive your Tesla to, nowhere other than your socially distanced daily walk to take your Birkin on, and nowhere at all to wear your Louboutins, the home has become the stage for our entire existence. And, while undeniably the pandemic has been devastating financially for many, there are some very fortunate groups who have found themselves with more disposable income due to the restrictions, and they’re channeling it into their Zoom backgrounds for all to see.
We’ve identified three examples of key trends we predict we’ll be seeing much more of this year…
Unlikely Social Media Crazes : Le Creuset Tik Tok madness
Perhaps one of the most unexpected marketing success stories of the pandemic belongs to high-end kitchenware brand Le Creuset who, somewhat unwittingly it seems, became the star of a new Tik Tok trend.
At the time of writing, the hashtags #LeCreuset and #LeCreusetTikTok had amassed more than 32.1M and 4.3M views respectively, and spawned a whole movement of predominantly young Tik Tokkers creating videos showcasing their impressive collections of the brands’ signature colourful cast iron pots.
Avery Abelhouzen, a self-styled "Le Creuset Girl" has taken the obsession to the next level and themed her entire account around the brands’ products. Discussing the decision behind her Tik Tok profile with The Face Magazine in October last year, Alebhouzen said, “[Le Creuset products] represent having a nice lifestyle and home, and I think that’s what people want right now.”
"[Le Creuset products] represent having a nice lifestyle and home, and I think that’s what people want right now."
Stylecaster also weighed in on the movement, flagging that alongside the trend to “Forget about the latest boot trends for a sec, and consider spending your coin on some cookware instead.”
Tik Tokkers may have had a deeper motivation to latch onto the trend: “adulting”. I.e. Despite the lockdown and all the restrictions inflicted onto their lives, teenage Tik-Tokkers are keen to show to the world that they’re still progressing, still growing-up and learning new skills. Put simply, “it’s time to finally learn how to cook for real”.
Indulgent Brand Partnerships: Smeg x Dolce & Gabbana
International kitchen appliance company Smeg, known for its iconic retro designs, has naturally become a winner of the global lockdowns. Initially driven by an uptick in basic small appliance purchases, like coffee and espresso makers, consumers forced into isolation were desperate to get their regular barista fix at home.
Smeg has since not only seen increased interest in its standard range of coffee machines, but, increasingly, in its limited edition partnership collections, such as its "Sicily in my Love" range, a collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana. First launched in 2018, and inspired by "traditional Sicilian kitchens, the look of Sicilian fruit vendor carts and blue-painted maiolica tile patterns", the collection includes pieces such as this $1,500 espresso machine (currently sold out at Harrods).
Despite the hefty price tag, it seems for some that the extragrance, and perhaps even the escapism offered by such unique designs is well worth the investment. Stefania Orrù, writing in Eater Magazine in December 2020, explained the increased temptation:
"Work is now almost seamlessly blended with home life, and my current setup calls for Zooming in and out of meetings from my kitchen counter. Perhaps that’s why I keep coming back to this collection for what feels like a little jolt of hope for my fantasy kitchen"
Responding to the overall increased demand for at-home coffee machines, Forbes Magazine reported Smeg’s response in an interview with CEO Vittorio Bertazzoni Jr. last year:
“We’re rapidly responding to the growing need for coffee machines by adding new appliances; we want to make a significant step forward in this sector. Brewing a cup at home was an optional luxury a few months ago, and is now the new normal for many in quarantine.”
He also announced the acquisition of espresso brand La Pavoni and stated that, “this acquisition will make it possible for us to share specific know-how, while affirming the strength and quality of something Made in Italy.”
Here’s hoping for a Valentino cafetiere soon…
Keeping up with ‘The Jones’ online: WFH Zoom Background Awards
The 2020 John Lewis & Partners Flexible Living Report, published last September, opens with the statement: “Artwork has become the new statement handbag or shirt" and their sales data would definitely support this as, although clothing sales are down year-on-year, sales of artwork have increased by approximately 35%. This increase is in part, we assume, driven by the requirement to spend all day, everyday, looking at the same walls. But there is potentially a sharper driving force, as reported by House Beautiful magazine: the increasingly competitive need to have an "Insta-friendly" Zoom background, for the hours of professional and social video calls that now consume our diaries.
Before Covid, none of us worried about how our at-home setup might appear to the outside world. Why would we? Now, we’ve started to spruce them up with artwork showcasing our taste, culture and personality. There’s even been a rise in book sales so people can quickly create aesthetically pleasing “shelfies”.
Those without dedicated working areas have been forced to create desk space from scratch, requiring not only artwork but, according to John Lewis, cushions, plants, laptop stands and ring lights –– all of which saw significant sales increases throughout 2020. Not to mention the 73% increase in purchases of small designer desks, again suggesting that many of us are keen to invest in a little luxury to adapt our homes.
Compounding the pressure on individuals to up their WFH home game, is a whole slew of new social media accounts, dedicated entirely to rating your video conferencing backgrounds. Canadian Twitter user "Room Rater" (@ratemyskyperoom), launched in April last year, who currently has just over 20K followers, is one such example. The account posts commentary and ratings on video backgrounds seen on news interviews:
While, fortunately, most of us are unlikely to face the public scrutiny of such accounts, the personal pressure to accurately communicate who we are to our peers, in the only way we currently can – online – is palpable for many people.
With the opportunity to showcase who we are "IRL" being impossible for the time being, our interiors have become exterior – we communicate our taste, our values, even our politics, through our bookshelves, artwork and trinkets.
Combine this with the sense of personal pride many of us feel in our homes, and the insecurity in having to open to them up to our colleagues, blurring the lines between our personal and professional lives, has created new, sometimes unexpected and extreme, purchasing trends.
In conclusion, it seems there are many new, perhaps unforeseen opportunities for brands to leverage the opportunities offered by the new way of living we have all been forced to adopt. For agile brands, willing to adapt, to explore new marketing mediums, engage in innovative partnerships, explore new acquisitions and who are quick to adapt to new trends, the opportunities are there for the taking. Never before has there been such a global seismic shift in how we all live our lives, and, whilst many of the changes have been unexpected, it seems that so too are the opportunities it offers.
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