Taking Advantage of Trends: Cocooning

One of the biggest established trends on the market front today, and still gathering momentum, is cocooning – the desire to perform the majority of social and cultural interactions (working, entertaining, relaxing, etc.) from home, rather than by going outside the home. This trend was strongly reinforced by the 9/11 tragedy, as many people began to review their lives and, sometimes for the first time, consciously decide how they wanted to live them rather than just letting life happen to them and going with the flow.

This poses an obstacle for many businesses who rely on brick and mortar style storefronts and foot traffic, as well as for those in the entertainment industries who rely on people “going out” for a large part of their income. The advent of home theaters, rec-room “bars” or “cafe corners” – sometimes better stocked and appointed than local business versions – and similar cocooning-based home improvements are becoming more and more popular as people are rediscovering the delights of having friends and family over for social time as opposed to meeting them outside the home in a third-party establishment. This trend is here to stay, according to all economic markers, so what are some of the ways in which your business can take advantage of this trend rather than being diminished by it? Here are some ideas:

1. Create a “house call” option for whatever you do. Now of course this doesn’t work in all fields, but you’d be surprised how many it can be extended to, given a little creativity and thought. For example, a new car dealer might consider creating an exclusive “We bring it to you!” option for pre-qualified buyers, where interested parties can submit an application online, choose the model they’re interested in from an on-screen “sales lot” and have a sales person drive it to their house for the test-drive and negotiations. Where can your business create a house-call option to encourage cocooners to purchase with you?

2. Reconfigure services and other offerings to allow for in-home variations of previously outside-only availability. For example, the recent boom of home-delivered DVD rentals does just this – you pay a consistent monthly fee and keep the movies as long as you want, sending them back when you’re ready to trade them in for new titles. No longer do you need to leave the house to stay home for movie night – the ultimate expression of cocooning. How can you recreate your service or product to meet your customers’ desires to stay in?

3. Consider adding “companion services” that make your service or product more attractive to cocooning customers. A pizza delivery service now offers free movie rentals with a qualified purchase as part of their “specials and sales” menu. These creative combinations save customers time and money, and offer strong incentives to remain loyal. How can you partner your offering to create this sort of option for your customers? Hint: what are your customers likely to be doing or needing during or near the time they are using your service/product?

The trend of cocooning offers many challenges to traditional businesses, especially those that rely heavily on showroom sales and foot traffic income. However, with a little creative thinking, you can turn this obstacle to your benefit and pull ahead of the pack where your competitors are concerned. My advice? Stay home one day and examine all the things you do that could be improved or eased by some version of your product or services. See where you hit snags or annoyances in your goal of living, working and having a good time at home. Imagine your ideal customer at home – then do your best to keep him there.