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"Home-Centricity:" What Does Multifamily Look Like With New Online Consumer Trends?

Sourdough bread baking, at-home workout videos, Zoom hacks, and puzzle orders are just a few of the peculiar trends that have skyrocketed as result of state lock downs. Many argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us into the future as it relates to consumer behavior, communication, and our perspective on housing. Grocery delivery, e-commerce, and remote working were expected to continue their rise in the years to come, but the COVID outbreak has accelerated these trends to make them more of our daily norm today. The future that was expected to take years to go into effect has taken only weeks. While COVID has altered our lives in 2020 and for the foreseeable future, Google has reported that many of the consumer trends that we are seeing now we're already well on their way, especially in housing. In a recent AdWeek article, Marie Gulin- Merle, Google's Vice President of Global Ads and Marketing, reports that there is ample evidence showing a shift towards "home-centricity." Gulin-Merle notes "People are looking for flexibility and a better quality of life- often that means eliminating a long commute. And with more people spending more time at home, shopping patterns have already started shifting." AdWeek reports that search terms for "grocery delivery" have increased 130% in the past two years alone.

The digital consumer shift found its way into multifamily as owners and operators throughout the country tried to continue leasing while protecting the health of their employees and prospects. While it's important for multifamily marketing strategies to have the properly optimized digital campaigns and virtual content in place, the shift towards "home-centricity" brings up some interesting topics for developers to consider. With more people spending time at home what is the future for multifamily developments? Leasing tours have long highlighted the plentiful and spacious amenities that apartment communities offer their residents. Will those spaces start to get smaller given that we're advised to avoid larger gatherings? Will secure pantries that have hallway accessibility for grocery delivery become a popular feature? The concept would allow for personalized grocery delivery to your home without having to open up your home to a stranger if you're not home. And is this the end of city living's rise? Urban development and rents have boomed in the past decade thanks to Millennials and Baby Boomers flocking to the US's major cities. With remote working now being more acceptable to many companies, more affordable, larger living spaces in the suburbs look more attractive now than ever with no need to commute. Living outside the city also allows you to avoid larger crowds or the need to use mass transit.

The future has come quicker than we expected. With home-centricity being of greater value, multifamily developers have some thinking to do. What does the future of apartment buildings look like now?


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