WARC Asia Editor Rica Facundo speaks to Ipek Akinci, Country Manager Singapore, Malaysia and Emerging Markets of Philips Domestic Appliances Asia Pacific, and asks her about the changing trends around consumers and their homes post-pandemic.

WARC: What are the components of a healthy home?

Ipek Akinci: A tremendous shift in consumer behaviour has been observed during the pandemic, and its effects continue to be present today. A study revealed that consumers are now spending up to 90% of their time at home and want their living spaces to be safe, comfortable and connected. The home needs to be clean, free from dirt and germs, and also where people are equipped with innovations that provide for healthy eating, as well as convenience in achieving all those.

We believe that the combination of these three components – safety, comfort, and connected – is what defines a healthy home and that it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to meet this shifting demand of the new age consumer and create products that adopt meaningful innovation and people-focused design. When we say meaningful, we are offering consumers products that are relevant and that make a difference to their lives, to help them in their daily lives and that also give them the flexibility to do things differently.

What are the trends or key shifts shaping how people view and feel about their home?

The pandemic has boosted the homebody economy as consumers were forced to spend most of their time at home. According to McKinsey, while 28% of consumers invested in home amenities to make lockdown more bearable, 30% of them plan to continue spending on their homes post-pandemic, signalling a fundamental change in the way we view our homes.

One major behavioural shift observed in consumption for the home was increased spending towards health, fitness and wellness. A study by Ernst & Young noted that 48% of consumers were spending more on healthy products for themselves and 36% of consumers were willing to pay a premium for products that promoted health and wellness.

How have you seen this shift influencing the home electronics category in APAC?

This consumption trend is also observed within the APAC region by us here at Philips Domestic Appliances as we noticed that consumers were willing to purchase high-end premium products that satisfy not only functional needs but also the needs for design and convenience. For example, they are willing to spend more on devices that enhance their quality of life and sense of wellbeing, like air purifiers that ensure cleaner air and air fryers that enable them to easily cook nutritious meals at home. It is now clear that the pandemic has revolutionised the way we design our homes, forcing us to put our needs at the forefront and create a ‘healthy home’, one that serves a multitude of purposes for the homeowner.

We also see sustainability gaining more attention by consumers. People have become more conscious of their purchases and this is becoming mainstream. They want their purchases to have minimal, if not no, impact on the environment. So we need to make our products recycle-friendly and not use materials that stay in the environment indefinitely like PVC.

The brand published a Clean Air White paper recently. What were some of the key findings?

The World Health Organization continues to confirm that air pollution is an increasingly important risk factor for non-communicable diseases, while a study in the Philips Clean Air White Paper (CAWP) revealed that the largest fraction of an individual’s total daily exposure to air pollutants is likely to occur in the indoor environment. With research revealing that indoor air quality can pose long-term effects on one’s health, such as an increased risk of asthma, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, this has made it vital for consumers to consider ‘clean air’ as a critical component of a healthy home.

Within APAC alone, Philips Domestic Appliances has seen over a 100% increase in air purifier sales from 2019 to 2021. Advancements in technology within the clean air space have given rise to innovative products which have shown to improve indoor air quality and effectively reduce air pollutant levels in the home and other indoor spaces. For example, it was found that air purifiers with HEPA filters were able to reduce levels of airborne allergens in homes by as much as 60% (CAWP), as well as improving the allergic symptoms of adults and children who suffered from allergic rhinitis and/or conjunctivitis.

How do these research findings change how the brand views and approaches the consumer?

Therefore, there has been a shift in the perception of clean air from being simply regarded as a lifestyle symbol to a necessity in consumers’ lives.

While the research around clean air has been extensively covered within the Philips Clean Air White Paper, we understand the importance of demystifying this science for our consumers. To simplify the crux of the research, the white paper, in layperson terms, does not just create awareness but also educates the public on the importance of good and clean indoor air quality, factors that contribute to indoor air pollution, and the measures they can take to ensure that they are breathing healthy air. In essence, these efforts tie back to our mission of ensuring a healthy home for all. To reach out to our audience, we have developed easy-to-read content in the form of social media tiles, which have been effective in communicating the key points from the white paper to consumers.

How can brands adopt a similar approach to cater to the rising health and wellness demands from consumers?

It is crucial for brands to focus on the market, not from what it is today but rather, what it will be tomorrow. Brands need to be nimble and respond quickly to everchanging consumer needs. They need to recognise the importance of listening to consumers’ voices and feedback, and provide products and solutions that are in line with what consumers are looking for. This can be by utilising market research to create innovative products that satisfy consumers’ ever-changing wants and needs. Brands need to ensure that they can provide consumers with the right products and where and when they prefer to purchase them.