Consumer sentiment: Builders should focus on delivering comfort and connections.
A decade ago, Faith Popcorn identified a broad consumer trend she called "cocooning." Americans wanted homes to serve as sanctuaries, retreats from the outside world. Today, new consumer research shows that much of what she identified still holds true but with an important twist.
Home buyers still seek safe, secure havens. But they also seek homes that enhance connectedness with family, friends and the surrounding neighborhood, says consumer research specialist J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich Inc. in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Homes "are not defensive or self-indulgent anymore," Smith told PCBC attendees last month in San Francisco in presenting Yankelovich Monitor's new Home Vision research. "Instead, today's homes should embrace family members and others in a safe setting abuzz with activity and engagement." Smith describes this trend as "hiving," a blend of home, family and social interaction that Americans seek in today's post-Sept. 11 world. The Yankelovich research suggests that hiving is a response to anxiety people feel as a result of a weak economy, the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq and a number of corporate and institutional scandals. It plays out in home design in many ways, Smith says.