What is comfort post-COVID? It’s about feeling good mentally and physically. Consumers will be looking for products and practices that produce good vibrations and extend a sense of safety and security as well. The desire for comfort spanned all sectors, from growth in athleisure wear, to increased sales of residential wellness equipment, to getting “back to basics” with crafting, home cooking, and comfort food to soothe the soul.
Cue Cottagecore, a lifestyle aesthetic centered on everything warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic. Introduced on social media channels a couple of years ago, Cottagecore absolutely boomed in 2020. As Gemma Riberti, head of interiors at WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors explained, nostalgia “has an incredibly reassuring power. In times of uncertainty, a well-known past is looked at with fondness and longing.” That’s why so many people locked down at home turned to arts and crafts and home cooking, harkening back to simpler times. Even Taylor Swift got in on the act, ushering the comeback of cable knit cardigans and American folk music with the release of the best-selling album of 2020.
Cottagecore extended to our “cottages.” As Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy’s trend expert noted, “From calming, nature-inspired hues to dreamy, cozy shapes to the simplicity of bygone eras, we’re all looking to our domestic spaces to bring that sense of comfort, stability, and solace we can’t find elsewhere in the world.”
The meaning of comfort has expanded during COVID, with privacy and space becoming huge factors in comfort expectations and many seeking out wide-open expanses in nature, private villas or glamping-style suites for vacations, second homes in less-populated areas, and transportation via private jet. Even mass carrier Delta won big during the pandemic with its promise to keep middle seats empty.
In the hospitality space, we saw increased interest in self-catering accommodations, and hotels rejiggered public areas to create more private nooks. Many also utilized suites as private dining rooms: Bloomberg News cited several hotels that adopted this strategy, including the Eliot Hotel in Boston, where in-house dining spot Uni employed a handful of rooms to serve ramen and sushi accompanied by piped-in music. Montage Kapalua Bay moved its traditional beachside luau into residential-style guestrooms, offering safe places for guests to experience Polynesian food, dance, and music.
Comfort post-COVID will also entail enhancing feelings of safety and security, largely through perceived hygiene. Retail, restaurants, and hospitality will need to make their cleaning protocols front and center. For example, since last spring, United has been publicizing its CleanPlus program, a partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic. Hyatt was among hotel companies setting up programs with rigorous safety and cleanliness protocols. Other hotels are working to build consumer trust and comfort with verified health security systems such as Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide, a tech-enabled verification system that establishes a consistent global baseline for health security across more than 360 expert-validated standards.
Many new cleanliness protocols are bound to stick at airports, just as post-9/11 security enhancements did. Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Airports Council International – North America recently told NBC News that “those technologies and protocols include sanitizing robots, restrooms that alert maintenance crews when cleaning is needed [and] contactless check-in, bag check and credential authentication.”
The relationship between comfort and nature was never stronger than during the pandemic and it will continue far into the future, which is why we include the next lexeme on our list.
This year, the trend of getting back to nature is staying strong. Read about Biophilia here.