As restrictions tighten across the country, any lingering belief that our lives might return to a pre-pandemic normality has now been dispelled.
Despite different restrictions occurring in different parts of the country, the upshot is the same – customers have reset their lives to be based more around their homes. Smart brands have adapted to survive and thrive in responding to these new patterns of behaviour.
Much of our lives have been centred around the kitchen. From a practical perspective, we are consuming so much more, which needs to be prepared and washed up. Meanwhile, baking (and boasting about it on social media) has been one of the pandemic’s lingering trends.
Added time at home means added mess and we also need solutions to keeping our homes clean. Additionally, consumers throughout the country are looking at redesigning their homes to help support redesigned lives. Brands within the category have responded at pace to our needs for innovation, integration and, of course, more space.
The trend at the recent IFA Berlin event certainly followed this pattern. It seemed that every brand was seeking to be the first choice for consumers to integrate with their smart home.
Here are five great examples of brands demonstrating at IFA that have developed products attuned to our new lifestyles.
Huawei: Looking at recent media coverage of sanctions and bans, one might think this would be a brand in retreat. The reality is far from this, however. This is a brand very much in an expansionist phase of development underpinned by R&D.
Huawei is committed to developing technologies encapsulated in an initiative called ‘1+8+N seamless connected living’, in which it is investing £100m. It will enable socially distanced users to stay connected effortlessly and at all times; a big draw in the current climate.
In reaction to the US sanctions imposed, Huawei has risen to the challenge admirably, engaging directly with almost 460 million monthly active users, 33 million in the EU alone. Its App Gallery is the third largest app store globally, increasing 76% YOY naturally due to the loss of Google services.
Haier: Another Chinese brand making waves and reacting nimbly to our new lifestyles is Haier, which also owns Hoover, Candy and GE Appliances. Its aim is to be 100% connected throughout its portfolio of products.
Currently, there are 18 families of products being developed through app and voice connectivity. This is described as “democratic connectivity” by chief exec Zhang Ruimin. For example, Nova by Candy is a fully connected washing machine powered by smartphone. It will learn about users’ usage and make recommendations to enable consumers to wash smarter and more ecologically.
As well as focusing on technologies to assist household chores, the company is thinking laterally to apply the technology to help us relax after dealing with the increased domestic burden. Haier is linking with the Vivino app to help wine drinkers store any bottle of wine. By scanning the label, the app will update the temperature of the storage to suit the choice of wine. Technology worth raising a glass to!
Heatle: In times of crisis, the country turns to a calming cup of tea and kettles have been particularly busy this past year. This brand is addressing the excessive waste that is created when boiling water to make a cuppa.
This ‘magic wand’ device will boil whatever the amount and whatever the liquid. It is a really clever innovation creating an easy, fast and sustainable alternative to traditional ways of heating liquids.
Additionally, it is also doing this free from limescale, with a claim to save up to 60% energy per cup. Many consumers have bought into the vision as there is a waitlist to own one.
Meater: While Heatle uses technology to promise efficiently making the perfect cup of tea, cooking brand Meater offers the same philosophy for meat. The wireless Bluetooth-enabled meat thermometer claims that its customers will never overcook a cut of meat, which will also be cooked to perfection.
The thermometer estimates how long to cook food to get the right result. The app provides real-time information on the cooking status of the meal, including resting time.
Beurer: While many brands are aiding our activities at home, Beurer is a brand addressing our need for escape – without leaving the confines of our home. The brand’s new patented ‘Maremed sea air simulator’ offers to bring soothing sea air to the comfort of your own home.
It claims to create a natural-identical seaside climate and a brand promise to feel the power of the sea soothing and relieving your airways. In a world of cancelled foreign trips and quarantines, it’s an alluring message.
While many brands have reacted to the crisis with a defensive mindset, these brands show the pathway to recovery – clear-eyed innovation attuned to our changing needs. Clarity begins at home.