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Staying home has made us rethink our spaces

As we reach 12 months of living with COVID-19 and the various shutdowns and restrictions that have come along with it, we’ve all had to shift our habits and lifestyle to adapt. A huge shift for many — staying home almost all the time — has led people to focus on making their living space more enjoyable and reflective of their personalities. Spring is here and we thought it’d be appropriate to highlight some Home & Garden trends and shifts in consumer behavior that we’ve observed in our marketplace. In a recent survey we conducted, 43% of respondents started a home or garden project in 2020 that they were not originally planning prior to COVID-19. Being successful in taking advantage of this shift in consumer spending habits means acting quickly. Don’t wait to capitalize on these trends — let Microsoft Advertising help you reach your customers today.

Home & Garden for advertisers

According to Microsoft Advertising’s and Suzy's 2021 Consumer Trends report, more than 35% of consumers are likely to spend money on home improvements or renovations in the future. With many people working from home this spring, another surge in Home & Garden shopping is expected.

Search engines are where we plan

In the 2021 Consumer Trends report, it was discovered that “[d]uring the pandemic, sectors of society had time to fill. This led to an uptick in consumers experimenting with do-it-yourself projects and life hacks. Whether that manifested in personal joy, home improvement, crafts, or up-cycling, this trend is here to stay in 2021. Consumers see the value in doing it themselves and now know they can. And it all starts with a search.” Home & Garden updates or purchases can be intimidating. They are, after all, major investments of money, emotion, and time. How do consumers start their planning for a Home & Garden or do-it-yourself (DIY) project? More and more frequently, they start with an online search.

Regardless of how their plans have been impacted by the pandemic, when starting their Home & Garden planning, 41% of United States consumers surveyed will start on search. In January 2021, the Microsoft Search Network saw a 117% increase in Home & Garden searches in the United States compared to January 2020, and this growth will likely continue through the spring. Not only will many consumers start with online search, but more are also planning and researching their Home & Garden projects on the Microsoft Search Network.

Shoppers are also influenced outside search

You can reach Home & Garden shoppers where they are through native advertising with the Microsoft Audience Network. The Microsoft Audience Network sees fewer last-touchpoint conversions than search but plays an important role at the start (24.8% of paths), and during the middle (33.1% of paths), of the consumer journey.

Microsoft Audience Ads provide Home & Garden advertisers with an opportunity to serve brand-safe native and display ads on Microsoft News (MSN) and, as well as a network of premium publisher sites. Using control groups, there was a 153% lift in brand awareness per user, a 273% lift in brand consideration, and a 268% lift in brand purchase for Home & Garden retailers that had activated Microsoft Audience Ads. Additionally, Home & Garden consumers who were exposed to both Microsoft Audience Ads and Microsoft Search Network ads were more likely to visit a retailer’s website compared to those who were exposed to only one type of ad.

Appeal to all consumers

The environmentally conscious

People are ready to renovate, redesign, and/or add a garden to their homes, and we’re rapidly seeing consumers place more emphasis on sustainable products. The 2021 Consumer Trends report highlights this trend: “Consumers are moving toward minimalism and making sure that anything they do purchase is sustainable and has low impact.” Your customers want to be eco-conscious and are willing to pay a premium for it. Highlight your Home & Garden products’ and services’ sustainable and eco-friendly qualities and options in your ad copy, creatives, and mission statement.

People with disabilities

There are more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, and marketers must create accessible experiences to engage with these consumers. For Home & Garden brands, this means ensuring your website and the entire buying process are accessible, and that your products can be accessed and used by anyone. Not only is it the right thing to do, becoming a more accessible brand can be an engine for growth.

While there are many other types of customers, the overarching call to action is simple: Make your advertising inclusive to build brand trust, love, and loyalty, and create personalized experiences that make people feel valued.

Seize the opportunity

Home & Garden advertisers have a large opportunity this season to reach an engaged audience on the Microsoft Search and Audience Networks. After seeing a significant spike (+117%) in Home & Garden searches from January 2020 to January 2021, we expect this trend to continue into the spring. Get ahead of the competition by taking a few steps:

  • Activate native advertising. Leverage Microsoft Audience Ads in addition to your Microsoft Search Network paid search campaigns to extend your reach outside paid search.
  • Verify your search and native budgets are sufficient to reach your customers throughout the spring Home & Garden shopping season.
  • Expand your ad copy to feature inclusive keywords, like “sustainable” and “eco-friendly,” to appeal to all potential customers.
  • Use inclusive imagery to connect with customers authentically and create personalized brand experiences.
  • Ensure your website is accessible so all consumers can buy your products and services.
  • Watch the ‘Spring into Retail Action’ digital event for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) insights and considerations.

Following these steps as spring approaches can greatly enhance your ability to convert customers where and when they are shopping as the DIY market is on the rise. What are you waiting for? Act now!

If you love insights, we have a lot more coming in 2021! Sign up for the biweekly Microsoft Advertising Insider newsletter to keep up to speed automatically with other vertical and seasonal analyses, tips and tricks, thought leadership, and product updates, and visit the Microsoft Advertising Insights content hub, which is updated weekly.