How “seeking simpler living” is shaping consumer behavior
June 30, 2021 | By: Jules Young, Global Director, Kantar
During the last year, many consumers adopted new behaviors as a result of spending more time at home—and plan to continue some of those behaviors going forward. So, what does that mean for brands and marketers this year and beyond?
I’m here to provide some insight on the way forward by diving deep into customers’ core motivations in Europe. Recently, Kantar’s team of Streetscapers across Europe, who look for trends that emerge locally, identified three prevailing consumer attitudes towards what comes next.1
Consumers “seeking simpler living” are finding greater appreciation for quiet times. They’re enjoying small moments between close family and friends, spending time at home, and focusing on the essentials in life.
Then, there are a significant number of consumers who are “proceeding with caution.” They remain apprehensive about an uncertain future.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have consumers who are “in pursuit of pleasure.” They’re looking forward to self-indulging and to “carpe diem”—seizing the day.
Today we are going to focus on “seeking simpler living,” and how that is impacting consumer behaviors, their expectations from brands, and their purchase journey.
Cultivating at-home culinary experiences
During lockdown, consumers had a chance to slow down and find a new appreciation of what a quieter, simpler lifestyle might look like. This renewed appreciation of living simply has resulted in consumers bringing a sense of mindful creation to cooking and dining at home. Rather than buying bread, some consumers started making it. The rapid acceleration of the already popular bread-baking trend led to flour and yeast shortages across Europe, according to Bloomberg.2
Customers also started investing in tools for cooking and baking. To understand the omni-channel path to purchase for small kitchen appliances, in February 2021, Kantar conducted a study for Amazon Advertising, surveying 1,000 UK consumers who had bought a new small kitchen appliance in the last three months.3 Eighty-three percent of people surveyed did pre-purchase research to help them decide what to buy. Seventy-four percent had done pre-purchase research online by reading online reviews or looking at pictures, videos, and product descriptions on retailer websites.
Brands have tapped into the home-cooking craze in unique ways. In London, Magnum ice cream is offering DIY “Make my Magnum” kits.4 Also in London, trendy food service outlets like Honest Burger, Le Swine, and La Mia Mamma created meal kits to help consumers recreate their favorite dining-out experiences at home.5 In Paris’s 11th arrondissement, the famous Ten Belles bakery gave away their sourdough starter to the first takers because they realized that the slashed hours of operation caused by lockdown meant they would need fewer starters.6
And how does the rise of at-home cooking and dining manifest itself in the world of grocery take-home food? According to Kantar Worldpanel’s UK household data that surveys 90,000 active shoppers and what they buy for groceries every month, the average number of stores consumers visited in a 4-week period has dropped by 11% from 5.6 to 5—in other words, the purchase frequency has decreased, but the size of each trip has increased.7 Online grocery shopping, however, is up 92% for the four weeks ending March 21, versus the same period in 2020.
Considerations for brands and marketers:
1. Provide value at online shopping touchpoints. As more shoppers research and shop online—whether purchasing appliances or food—they’re seeking content that communicates the value brands offer. Start by recasting product features as benefits to enable shoppers to quickly compare, contrast, and decide.
2. Develop ways to bring your brand to life in unexpected places. Consumers get used to encountering brands in specific places. Think about where else you can meet them and provide novel experiences that they’ll remember.
Indulging in comfort and self-care
Fashion and beauty trends also reflect the move towards simpler lifestyles. Consumers have scaled back on makeup purchases in favor of self-care, with pampering skin care and body care products like facial masks and bath soaks. In Spain, the beauty sector has already begun to notice the effects of the “new normal.” Revenue declined by 18.8% from the previous year, but now there are signs of recovery, with the decline leveling off to only 2.4%.8
This is a sector that consumers never truly give up on, although one in which they control their spending. Throughout 2020, no shoppers were lost, according to Kantar Worldpanel’s Beauty shoppers. In fact, the sector gained 1.6% shoppers in Spain to reach 32 million.9
The profound transformation of social habits led to major changes in shopping with consumers placing a greater focus on hygiene. Since the onset of the pandemic in Spain, hygiene has grown revenues by almost 5%, while beauty—consisting of perfume, skin care and cosmetics—has fallen by nearly 17%.
In apparel, brands selling loungewear and athleisure have seen skyrocketing sales,10 whereas trend-driven retailers have seen steep declines. Sell-through rates of activewear increased 97% year-on-year in Europe.11 With consumers working from home, they have taken a more relaxed approach to appearances. The final result remains to be seen, but this shift towards ease and simplicity could become solidified as a popular norm.
Considerations for brands and marketers:
1. Determine how your brand can provide value to customers seeking simpler living. Does your brand offer self-care? Comfort? Luxury? How does your brand enhance the lives of customers seeking a simpler lifestyle?
2. Ideate creative digital experiences. Think about the omni-channel experience and bridging the gap between the physical and digital. Perhaps it’s creating an interactive digital experience where customers can browse and try on makeup or clothing that replicates the physical activity.
Signing on to stream
This trend of craving the simpler life means that Europeans are searching for entertainment at home too. In a November 2020 study Kantar conducted for Amazon Advertising in the UK, which surveyed 1,011 people who watch TV, 84% of respondents stream video on demand. Twenty-five percent are cord-cutters—that is, they only stream content—whereas 59% are cord-stackers, meaning that they stream content and watch broadcast or satellite content too.12
All advertising-based video on demand (AVOD), or ad-enabled streaming services, are less established in Europe than they are in the US. But we see that the countries are following a similar trajectory in terms of customers accepting advertising as a fair value exchange for watching their desired content. Forty-one percent of those interviewed in the aforementioned study said they sign up to a free, ad-enabled service to watch content.13
Amid the increase in streaming, old trends still remain. Lots of us still like to snack while watching our favorite movie or show. In fact, 88% of consumers in our study confirmed that they consumed snacks or beverages while streaming, with the top five categories being crisps, chocolate, soft drinks, sweets, and alcohol.14 Many of us still want the latest and greatest equipment; 19% of people interviewed said they planned to upgrade their home entertainment equipment in the next six months.15
And, of course, gaming is increasingly popular in the world of consumer electronics. Kantar’s Worldpanel ComTech data shows an extra 600,000 households started playing consoles on their TV in 2020 in France, Germany, UK, Italy, and Spain. This means that console gamers now present TV brands with a huge segment to reach: 19.3 million people across Europe.16
Twitch also reflects this surging interest. Twitch has more than 2.5 million viewers at any given moment and more than 30 million average daily visitors.17 In fact, Twitch recently got the top spot in France in Kantar’s 2020 Media Reactions survey as the publisher whose consumers were most engaged in the advertising being shared.18
What’s interesting about this audience is their willingness to spend more on their TV compared to the average shopper. From the latest Q1 results, over half of console owners who purchased a new TV spent more than €501, with 17% spending over €1001. This is interesting for TV brands, particularly that premium TV console gamers need the high specs to optimize their gaming experience.19
And in a seamless segue from gaming to e-Sports, over 1.2 million consumers from different backgrounds claim to watch e-sports in UK alone, according to Kantar’s TGI survey.20 Originally a hobby for teenagers, e-sports has now gone mainstream. Kantar’s social listening reveals that the followers of the winner of last year's Fortnite World Cup were primarily white-collar professionals (54%).21 This audience is attracting new types of sponsors, as traditional advertisers have realized that e-sports is an exciting opportunity to engage with potential customers. Several mainstream brands have already sponsored e-sports, including Gillette, Mastercard, Dell, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Intel, and ABInbev—quite a shift from an industry originally sponsored by game manufacturers. This interest in e-sports is evidenced on Twitch, where a huge proportion of e-sports is shown and Twitch even has its own e-sports tournament, Twitch Rivals, which has been sponsored by brands such as Lego and Doritos.
Considerations for brands and marketers:
1. Understand where your audiences are streaming. Streaming is now the mainstream. Consider livestreaming or e-Sports campaigns to reach new and existing audiences, if that supports your business objectives.
2. Explore the creative ways you can participate. Whether it’s sponsoring a livestream e-sports event, showing up in your audience’s favorite show, or creating an interactive game, there are many innovative ways brands can develop creative experiences that complement customers’ streaming experiences.
To summarize, “seeking simpler living” may not, on the face of it, seem like the most exciting trend that, as a brand, you’d want to connect with. But with some creative thinking around entertainment, creativity, feeling productive, and nurturing oneself and one’s family, your brand will be able to reach and engage with both new and existing audiences.
1 Kantar Global Monitor
3 Kantar and Amazon Advertising UK Small Kitchen Appliances study, February 2021
4 Source: https://www.timeout.com/london/news/magnum-is-sending-out-free-diy-ice-cream-kits-to-bored-londoners-042120
5 Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/food-drink/diy-meal-kits-uk-food-delivery-restaurant-london-b1782604.html
6 Source: https://www.grubstreet.com/2020/04/homemade-sourdough-in-paris.html
7 Source: Kantar Worldpanel, FMCG panel, Grocery, 4 weeks ending 21st March 2021
8 Source: Kantar Worldpanel Beauty & Personal care panel, Spain
9 Source: Kantar Worldpanel Beauty & Personal care panel, Spain
10 Source: https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/retail/sweatsuits-and-yoga-pants-are-selling-like-crazy-what-happens-when-lockdowns-end
11 Source: https://blog.edited.com/blog/resources/activewear-market-and-covid-19
12 Kantar Amazon Advertising UK TV Streaming Audience Study, Nov 2020
13 Kantar Amazon Advertising UK TV Streaming Audience Study, Nov 2020
14 Kantar Amazon Advertising UK TV Streaming Audience Study, Nov 2020
15 Kantar Amazon Advertising UK TV Streaming Audience Study, Nov 2020
17 Twitch advertising
18 Kantar Media Reactions 2020 study
20 Kantar Media TGI – Q3 2020 - UK
21 Kantar Media Social Listening – Q1 2020