The Age of ‘insperience’: demand for in-home experiences brings new hope for retailers post lockdown

  • A third of UK retailers have launched new ‘in-home’ products or services since lockdown began on 23rd March 2020
  • Dubbed the ‘insperience economy’ the trend has increased sales for 88 per cent of businesses who have launched one, with its value predicted to reach £168 million in the next year
  • Over a third of consumers will continue investing in insperiences, such as virtual wine tastings, home workouts and remote styling sessions, even as retailers reopen
  • ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas has contributed to the report from Barclaycard Payments, which spoke to both consumers and retailers on the emerging ‘insperience economy’

The ‘insperience economy’ is giving new hope to retailers post-coronavirus, as demand for in-home products and services is set to increase even further after retailers reopen to the public.

New research from Barclaycard Payments reveals that a third (33 per cent) of retailers launched innovative products and services designed specifically to be used at home during the months of lockdown.

Dubbed the ‘insperience economy’, almost nine in 10 (88 per cent) retailers saw increased demand for in-home experiences over the last three months. Of retailers who do offer at-home services, 88 per cent have seen insperience sales increase as a result.

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of UK adults have either tried one or plan to do so, with virtual gym classes (30 per cent), virtual pub quizzes (28 per cent) and DIY meal kits (20 per cent) the most popular.

Despite over half (56 per cent) of retailers initially planning their insperience product lines to be temporary, over a third (35 per cent) of shoppers intend to continue investing in insperiences even after lockdown ends.

Following this shift in consumer spending, retailers predict the insperience economy to be worth £168 million over the next 12 months, an increase in value of 32 per cent.

The opportunity to provide hyper-personalised products for their customers (71 per cent of retailers) and to recreate the spontaneity of the high street at home (67 per cent) were seen by retailers as key benefits of insperiences.

Top reasons Brits plan to continue investing in this trend include that insperiences are fun (27 per cent) and novel (26 per cent), and that they help consumers manage their time more efficiently (31 per cent). As such, 39 per cent now intend to work out at home more even after gyms have reopened, and over a quarter say they will continue having digital drinks (28 per cent) even once pubs and bars return.

A boost for business and industry

The financial boost for businesses who have been quick to adapt also benefits the workforce, with over two in five retailers (43 per cent) reinstating furloughed staff to fill insperience-based roles. What’s more, retailers that offer insperiences have created an average of 15 new job roles each since the beginning of lockdown.

In addition to a new and exciting revenue stream, retailers cite increasing brand awareness (75 per cent), creating a new point of contact with consumers (73 per cent), and establishing themselves as trusted partners in their sector (70 per cent) as key motivations for continuing to develop their insperience offering. Shoppers are in agreement, with two fifths (39 per cent) more likely to remember a brand once they have participated in an insperience, and over a third (35 per cent) feeling insperiences help them to form a more personal brand relationship.

Partnerships and personalised insperiences

Of those insperiences already launched, half (50 per cent) saw retailers team up to offer more rounded, ‘one stop shop’ services for shoppers, with 78 per cent currently considering partnerships with brands from other sectors to improve their insperience offering.

In addition, seven in 10 (70 per cent) retailers predict insperiences will pave the way for a new era of personalised retail experiences, believing that they provide greater scope to tailor products and services to individual consumers.

There could be a marked impact on business supply chains too, as more than two thirds (67 per cent) of agile retailers look to localised strategies to reduce delivery times and recreate the spontaneity of the traditional experience.

Kirsty Morris, Managing Director for Account Development at Barclaycard Payments, said: “Lockdown has undoubtedly been challenging for retailers, but it’s promising to see how many have been quick to cater their product lines to consumers looking for entertainment and personalised products while at home.

“Over the past few months we’ve helped many of our merchant customers transition to take advantage of the insperience economy by setting them up to start taking online payments, which is testament to their agility as they’ve adapted to the ‘new normal’.  With more businesses now online, we expect the demand for insperiences to continue even as lockdown restrictions ease.”

Mary Portas, retail expert and campaign spokesperson, said, “The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a new era of shopping and living. Now more than ever, people want to enjoy the experiences they’ve always been given, but from the comfort of their own homes. Retailers that enable ‘insperiences’ will continue to thrive, even as we emerge from lockdown and enter the ‘new normal’.

There’s no escaping the fact that we’re facing the biggest economic challenge in living memory and experiencing a recession more serious than we’ve seen before. If businesses can celebrate anything from the past three months, it’s their ingenuity, adaptability and creativity, which have created a much-needed lifeline as they navigate these challenges.”

Will Condliffe, spokesperson for Chester Zoo, said, “The closing of all zoos naturally posed a real challenge for how we would continue to engage with new and existing visitors, so we had to get creative. Once we’d thought of the virtual zoo we were hopeful it would be popular though didn’t expect it to be as big as it was!

“The video streams of our keepers and animals have now had almost 20 million views and counting, our Facebook following shot up by 46% in the 24 hours after we announced our first live day, and were trending on Twitter around the world – the reaction has been phenomenal.

“By adapting quickly to offer a new way of ‘visiting’ Chester Zoo we were able to keep animal-lovers engaged and put smiles on people’s faces during lockdown. We’re confident that the interest in our virtual offering will continue as we beam animals to thousands of new fans across the world.”

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