Kristen Boesel
Kristen is a Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel. She conducts consumer research and analysis for US Lifestyles and Leisure Reports and advises clients on consumer attitudes and behaviors.

As the temperature warms up with spring nearly here, what better time than now to think about backyard hangs?

Nearly all US adults have access to an outdoor space at home, most commonly a front or back yard with grass. However, even though yard space is common, residents may not use or invest in this space the way they do their indoor living area. The lockdown phase of the 2020 pandemic shined a new light on this previously overlooked area of the home, inspiring people to take advantage of the outdoor space at their disposal. In 2021, expect to see continued interest in items that offer comfort and warmth outdoors and a trend toward outdoor arrangements for remote work.

Lot sizes are shrinking

A newly built detached single-family house was more than 1,000 square feet smaller than it was 20 years earlier. This means homeowners will have a growing need to maximize smaller outdoor spaces.

In addition, the nation’s homeownership rate remains lower than it was during the run-up to the Great Recession, especially among younger adults. While the overall US homeownership rate for Q4 of 2020 was 66%, it was only 39% among adults under the age of 35. Renters are less likely than homeowners to have access to an outdoor space at home, and those who do tend to have smaller spaces available (eg a balcony instead of a backyard). As a result, compact outdoor furniture options would serve the renters’ market as well.

Innovate designs and business models

Demand will grow for compact and functional outdoor furniture and storage options. Products that can be reconfigured for multiple purposes (eg an outdoor desk by day becomes an outdoor dining table at night) can also help consumers maximize the ways they use their outdoor spaces.

Another alternative is offering rental/ subscription services for outdoor furnishings. Borrowing an outdoor dining set when you actually need it may be more cost-effective than owning a set that goes unused for months at a time during the winter. Rentals also give consumers a chance to change up the visual style of their furniture without committing to multiple years with the same design.

Encourage current outdoor furniture owners to upgrade

More than a quarter of adults say adding or improving upon their outdoor furniture would make spending time in their outdoor space more enjoyable. At least a third of adults with an outdoor space say they spent more time relaxing outside in 2020 than they did in 2019. More time spent with existing furniture sets may make consumers interested in buying new, more comfortable outdoor furniture to help them relax in 2021.

Fewer trips to the store reduce impact of displays

In years past, in-store displays were a top source of inspiration for homeowners to make changes to their outdoor spaces. The pandemic has kept many consumers away from inessential shopping trips, so brick-and-mortar retailers are missing out on in-person purchases. Meanwhile, DTC remains the fastest-growing retail channel for the outdoor furniture market.

Increase chances of online exposure

Social media is now the top way consumers get ideas for their outdoor spaces, followed by friends and family. Targeted social media campaigns can give potential shoppers a visual sense of what an outdoor furniture set would look like in a real-world setting. Partnering with DIY YouTube influencers could also reach a wider online audience.

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