This time last year, we had a lot more time on our hands. We filled it with activities and hobbies we had long set aside or picked up new ones, like baking sweets. This year it’s a different story with kids returning to school and extracurricular activities and some parents returning to the workplace. Suddenly we have less time, and saving it becomes our goal. Saving time and convenience will be a key motivator in how consumers approach their home product purchases. This need presents a significant opportunity for the home industry to invigorate continued growth.

The return to the classroom and more in-person school activities, while welcomed by many, means the household is changing our pandemic routines. I know that’s true in my home. Additionally, both kids and adults return to socialization and more in-person activities, translating to packed schedules and interrupted meals.

Mornings are once again time-crunched, trying to get everyone out the door. To save time, consumers opt to use less involved coffee makers, like single-serve coffee and espresso makers, and set aside French presses, grinders, and pour-over coffee devices to use when they have more time. Evenings are all about managing various tasks, from getting homework done to shuttling between various extracurricular activities. Getting the family fed under these time pressures is a rude awakening after having the luxury of time last year. Many of the food prep appliances purchased when stuck at home during the pandemic will still come in handy. Still, consumers will be looking for innovative, time-saving ways to use them, like conveniently preparing the dishes they learned during the pandemic. These on-the-move consumers will also turn to time-saving devices, like multi-cookers, slow cookers, toaster ovens, and food storage for leftovers.

Getting back into an out-of-the-home routine also creates opportunities for home environment and personal care products. Products like robotic vacuums help save time, as will anything that helps shift toward more quick spot-cleaning approaches. The increased concern about viruses opens the door for innovation to clean surfaces inside and outside the home, like workplaces, cars, or other gathering places. Air purifiers will address the desire to stay safe as we have more personal interaction in our homes, work, and even in our cars. Increased in-person personal interaction also means more focus on our appearance. We’re seeing in our research more interest in women’s hairstyling, men’s grooming, and garment care.

This phase in the pandemic opens up new opportunities for the home industry to better consumers’ lives. How can home products remove a stressor, combine steps, or simplify new routines? The home industry was there for consumers early in the pandemic when their homes were their sanctuaries. Once again, it has the opportunity to help consumers adjust to new realities and routines and be their solution.