At The Sound, we’re firm believers in placing humans at the center of our stories. One story that fascinates us most is the story of “home,” and how its ongoing evolution creates changing opportunities for brands.

Our most recent research, completed in 2019, taught us that “home” is not just a place, but a feeling.

That feeling comes to life when key emotional needs are met: stability, belonging, comfort, and creativity. But those needs are by no means a given; instead, home “invaders” like work, finances, technology and polarization undermine our ability to feel at home.

So now, as we all spend more time “at home” than ever, we’ve resurfaced our learnings in order to illuminate evergreen opportunity for our clients – even in these atypical times.

Home is a Feeling

Prior to the global pandemic, The Sound did an independent exploration of home to understand what it means to people across the world. We spoke to over 60 people across diverse households in 8 different countries, on 5 different continents.

And yes, at a basic physiological level, they told us that home is a place for shelter. But their stories also illuminated the notion that home is so much more than that.

Home is a union of human needs.


Emotional Needs

It extends beyond far beyond the space itself – and even when construction and move-in are complete, home is not really a finished product at all. Rather, home is a feeling which is created when our emotional needs are met.


The need to feel safe and secure.

Why it matters: Stability offers a foundation of continuity; having stability allows people to take risks and grow without fearing for their future.


The need to feel loved and form bonds with others.

Why it matters: We understand ourselves in relationship to others. Belonging is fundamental to identity-building; without it, we lose not only our sense of connection, but also our sense of self.


The need to feel at ease and content with our surroundings.

Why it matters: While getting outside your comfort zone can be a good thing from time to time, it’s not a good thing all of the time. Comfort is our antidote to stress, a mechanism that allows us to power down and re-energize for new challenges.


The need to express who we are.

Why it matters: Human beings are driven to leave our unique mark on the world. Creativity is the mechanism to do so, acting on our own free will, feeling a sense of mastery over our own destiny.


Home Invaders

The union of those four needs create the feeling of home. However, there are opposing forces that obstruct that process, and prevent the needs from being met. These are the “home invaders.”


What does it impact? Sense of creativity and comfort.

Home and work used to be very separate and distinct spaces. But with widespread work-from-home policies, we see personal spaces invaded by work tasks well beyond the 9-5 working hours.


What does it impact? Sense of stability and belonging.

Without income and employment security, instability bubbles to the surface, making it difficult to establish a foundation and lay down roots.


What does it impact? Sense of stability and creativity.

Now more than ever, we are constantly connected. We never turn off. Our minds are always multi-tasking and we allow – and sometimes encourage – the interruption.


What does it impact? Sense of belonging and comfort.

Living in an infinitely fractured, conflict-fueled media environment means that we no longer share much in the way of collectively recognized truths. Now, even the mundane can become controversial, turning home into more a battleground than a sanctuary.


What does this mean for brands?

To be a welcome guest, brands need to think beyond their role in the home as physical space, and instead consider what role they can play to amplify the feeling of home as an emotional space.

This means shifting perspective beyond thinking of home as a “category,” and instead reframing it as a need state that can be nurtured and protected both inside and outside of the house.

Looking Ahead: Home in the Time of COVID-19

With the unprecedented level of uncertainty during COVID-19, home is experiencing change at a breakneck speed. Our core needs are amplified, making them more important than ever. And the home invaders are exacerbated:

  • We are working from home, diminishing the separation of home and work
  • We are concerned about employment security and whether we will still have an income in the weeks to come
  • We are constantly watching the news in the hopes of staying on top of the virus
  • We are always connected to technology, checking and re-checking our phones, refreshing news web pages

In the weeks to come, we’ll be revisiting and expanding on our key questions and findings in the context of CV-19 in order to identify fresh implications within our current circumstances.


But to jumpstart your thinking now, download our original full report here or view it below.



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The Sound

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