As the housing crisis forces more people to share accommodation for longer, smart businesses can find opportunities to help and profit, writes Will Higham
Whatever one thinks of the government’s recent white paper, something is clear – the UK is suffering a housing crisis, one unlikely to improve in the short, or even medium, term. What will it mean for consumers?
For many it will simply be about sharing living space with more people. Housing unavailability and costs mean the trend towards single-person households will be hard to sustain. Offspring, unable to buy, will stay at home longer, raising average household size. This will be exacerbated by more grandparents moving into the family home, creating the ‘famwich’ I identified in a previous column.
Children keen to move out more quickly will need to rent – alone, with friends or in flat shares. The latter is a major growth trend, and not just among the young. I recently ran a trends project for payment app Paym in which we found the biggest rise in flat sharing is actually among older professionals – a group we christened PASS-ers (professional and still sharing).
Meanwhile, with wages falling behind house prices, families will struggle to upsize, and will be staying in the same home longer. They will increasingly seek ways to make the most of the space they have. The mantra “Don’t move, improve!” will become more popular, as families seek to maintain the excitement of change with new décor or room layouts rather than a whole new house.
Consumers will look to brands to help them manage their shared space, driving demand for new portion sizes, packaging and financial products targeted at sharers. They will want products that enable more to be done in less space or more ways: adaptable furniture, objects in colours or textures to suit different rooms. Those with limited space, or sharing with strangers, will seek smarter storage. Ad campaigns based on the reality of shared living – the good, the bad and the funny – and a more understanding tone of voice will benefit marketers.
Larger households, family and non-family, look set to be the norm, giving brands an opportunity for a new, potentially more profitable, kind of sharing economy.
Will Higham is a popular futures speaker and founder of strategic consultancy Next Big Thing