1.6 million Aussies stuck in a gap between ideal home dreams and retail reality: What home retail marketers need to know

The home retail landscape in Australia faces a significant challenge: 1.6 million Aussies find themselves stuck between the dream of an ideal home and the reality of available retail options. How does this impact home retail marketers? Ciel Graham, research director at The Growth Distillery, explains.

The home retail landscape in Australia faces a significant challenge: 1.6 million Aussies find themselves stuck between the dream of an ideal home and the reality of available retail options. This disparity underscores a pressing need for home retail marketers to better understand and address the shifting dynamics of consumer behaviour.

The Moments That Matter, Home Retail research, conducted by The Growth Distillery, emerges as a crucial tool for guiding marketers through this challenge.

By delving into the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of home retail consumers, this research offers invaluable insights to help marketers navigate the intricate ‘moments that matter’ along the purchase journey. From understanding triggers to identifying tipping points, this research equips marketers with the knowledge needed to connect with consumers and guide them towards finding their perfect fit in the home retail space.

Navigating the moments that matter in home retail

The Growth Distillery recently conducted research to tap into the home retail sector, surveying more than 3300 home retail consumers to understand how the shopper dynamic for this category is changing. Ciel Graham, Research Director, explains how buyers are thinking, feeling and behaving, and with guidance for marketers on how to help them navigate through the consumer ‘moments that matter’.

Our home is indeed our castle. Despite the cliché, it rings true, especially in Australia where the home is more than just a shelter; it’s where we eat, sleep, work, laugh and play. The importance of our homes is reflected in our dedication to their upkeep. Nine out of ten Australians take pride, investing their time and money into their home, contributing to what the Australian Bureau of Statistics values as a booming AU$19.6B industry.

However, there exists a noticeable gap between the ideal home Australians envision and the actual home retail items available to them. In reality, (almost) no one expects to spend their weekend shopping for new furniture and/or appliances. Something breaks, life changes, or both – and turns many into reluctant inexperienced buyers. This is the situation for 1.6M Aussies right now according to Roy Morgan, and everyone else likely at some point in the future.

Shoppers are in pursuit of perfection…

Shopping for home items is a pursuit of the perfect fit – driven by physical space, utility, and/or lifestyle dynamics. This search is a significant factor in buyer decisions, second only to price. Achieving the right fit can be daunting, with 80% of shoppers worried about affordability and half feeling overwhelmed by the rapid pace of change in the retail sector.

And so they seek home comforts…

Given this context, shoppers seek comfort in familiarity, with:

  • 72% preferring in-store shopping to experience products firsthand. This preference highlights the value of physical retail spaces, even as online platforms become crucial for preliminary research for more than half.
  • Name recognition is also key, only 1 in 4 say a brand name isn’t impactful – although the meaning of brand is expanding, with retailer private labels and dupes gaining traction with buyers

This dynamic creates a unique challenge for marketers in the home retail sector in 2024, who will need to navigate these consumer preferences and anxieties in order to connect with shoppers at every possible touchpoint along the purchase journey.

Engagement is high, shoppers are listening and looking for help

Three-quarters are actively engaged in the category – reading, watching and browsing home and lifestyle channels. Yet only two in five feel knowledgeable and confident in making purchase decisions.

The buying process is simple, but this can be deceptive. With buyers taking only 15-20 days on average (or 2 to 3 weekends) to complete their journey, we see consumers are tempted to rush and can easily become distracted and dissuaded, leading to dissatisfaction.

Brands that successfully guide consumers to find their perfect fit will understand and address their needs at pivotal points – the moments that matter:

  1. The Catalyst. Most purchases are driven by perceived necessity, and a reactive buyer is an inexperienced and emotional buyer, so leveraging trust is essential for brands to instil much needed calm and confidence in order to move shoppers forward.
  2. Considerations. As shoppers are exposed to an oversupply of new, unfamiliar and confusing information, it’s critical to keep them on track and focus on what really matters – their true perfect fit.
  3. The Closing. Final decisions can be fraught with doubt and temptation, requiring brands to offer reassurance and validation of the consumer’s choices, while also setting positive associations for any future interactions.

Making these moments really matter also means taking a deeper look from a category perspective. How to best engage with buyers also depends on what shoppers buy. In this case, size really does matter.

For example … Small appliance shoppers tend to be more apathetic and efficient in their purchasing, whereas Furniture buyers are more discerning around investing in comfort and design. Those shopping for major appliances are most flustered and cautious to get it just right, while BBQ buyers are more experiential and indulgent.

So what does that mean for marketers, manufacturers, and retailers?

Buyers need support at every point in the journey – and brands need to be there before shoppers even arrive, and long after they have left:

  1. Be a friend, not a stranger. Be present with strong credentials, shoppers are only willing to let someone they know into their home.
  2. Remove the friction. Make it truly easy to find their perfect fit, to compare relevant options and stay on track.
  3. Be reassuring and empathetic. They’re shopping for their castle, so engage them on a lifestyle level, not just about functionality
  4. It’s not one size fits all. Shoppers are buying in different categories, and also have different homes and households influencing what ‘perfect fit’ means.

Ciel Graham is research director at The Growth Distillery. 


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