Studies reveal that consumers are warming back up to brand activations and that the pandemic will create even higher demand for multi-generational housing.

Experiential retail’s early revival

When we canvassed the industry to find out what the future of experiential retail might be post-pandemic, the experts we interviewed – whilst not entirely comfortable with the concept itself –were cautiously optimistic. That belief has been borne out by a new YouGov study, which shows that a significant minority of US consumers are already reengaging with brand activations. And many more plan to do so soon. A fifth have recently attended a pop-up shop, while 17 per cent have visited a brand installation. Millennials are the most eager to interact with brands in this way, with just under a quarter either ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to visit a brand-organized event in the next 12 months. As retail futurist Howard Saunders recently told Frame: ‘The demise of conventional advertising combined with the rise of online retail has certainly given birth to some innovative and engaging brand spaces. These stores have shone a harsh light on our more mundane and lacklustre retail, a light which does not fade just because we face another crisis. In fact, there will be a greater demand for engaging places that entertain and inform safely.’

The decade of the home

2020 has forced many of us to consider the concept of ‘home’ more intensely than we have in several generations. As a spatial category, it’s been forced to take on many new roles, some expected – others less so. As a sense of place, it’s seen many look again at what’s available on their doorstep and reinvest, both emotionally and monetarily, in the area in which they live. Consultants Accenture think this domestic mindset will echo throughout the 2020s, ushering in what they term the ‘decade of the home’. The assertion is supported by two new international surveys, which found that, despite the lifting of many restrictions, 69 per cent of people expect to do most of their socializing over the next six months either in their home, a friend’s home or virtually. Just over half are committed to home working long-term.

Support for local businesses will be sustained too, with 56 per cent of respondents reporting that the pandemic had caused them to shop more in their immediate community and 84 per cent intending to make it a permanent habit. ‘Home is now the new frontier – it’s become the workplace, the schoolroom, the place to try new hobbies, the place to socialize and a safe sanctuary – so companies must account for this reality,’ says Oliver Wright, head of Accenture’s global Consumer Goods practice.

A multi-generation migration

For the rest of us, cohabiting with our extended family may be less an occasional luxury and more a permanent necessity. We covered a range of multi-generational houses over the last couple of years, a typology that was reemerging in response to several socioeconomic pressures, from loneliness to house prices to the cost of child care. Now it looks like the pandemic has given the homeward migration another boost. According to research by real estate marketplace Zillow, 2.7 million adults in the US moved in with a parent or grandparent in March and April, taking the total number to 32 million – the highest on record.

A majority of those who moved home this year were from Generation Z, aged between 18 and 25 years old. More recent data from the US’ monthly unemployment survey found that around 35 per cent of Americans in their twenties lived with a parent or grandparent in June 2020, up from just over 30 per cent in February. With the World Bank predicting that the global economy is about to suffer the worst recession since World War II, the situation is only likely to get worse. Designing properties that have the capacity and flexibility enough to accommodate such shifts in occupancy should be high on developers’ priorities.

Hero image: A multi-generational house in Amsterdam by BETA.