It’s March, another polar vortex is headed your way and you can’t wait because that means cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa (or let’s be honest, copious amounts of red wine) in a chunky sweater, thick socks and a fuzzy blanket, excited to not leave the house for at least three days. If this is you, you’ve already mastered the art of Hygge. If you think this sounds crazy, same. The Hygge lifestyle has taken root in America, affecting industries from restaurants to home decor to fashion, and has extended past the winter months, making our homes the new “it” destination.
Hygge is a Danish term for cozy (pronounced HOO-ga), and it’s just as much a feeling as a state of mind. Really, it is "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." According to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Hygge is "a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA." They’re clearly on to something because Denmark is consistently ranked at the top of the World Happiness Report. Any trend that promises happiness is sure to catch on, especially in America.
But some are Hygge trend haters claiming that Americans have found a way to co-opt something not our own and commercialize it in no time. Some Danes even say that Hygge "has been practically weaponised in an effort to sell candles, socks, and blankets." And they’re not wrong—Hygge products are everywhere you turn from books to subscription boxes to games and more. While I fully respect their disdain, for anyone who has lived through a brutal winter understands that you’d go to any length to make it better.
The people crying out for Hygge help the most live in Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, Montana and Alaska, according to Google Trends. It’s no surprise that this closely maps to the cities with the most depressing winters. TBH, I’m SHOCKED that Massachusetts didn’t make it on this list, but either way, I feel bad for everyone who lives in these sunshine-less places. Attn: Anyone who works in marketing for a travel brand, please send these poor souls to a tropical destination.
Hygge can be spotted popping up across a handful of Pinterest's 2019 Trends, with an increase in interest for indoor and outdoor fireplaces (contemporary fireplace searches +763%) and comfy wraps (robe silhouettes searches +689%), "meaning you never have to choose between comfort and style again". #Goals.
The candle industry is getting lit (see what I did there) not only because of growth but also because of diversification, with many non-traditional verticals whetting their wicks. According to Business of Fashion, "everyone from Goop to haircare guru Frederic Fekkai to Net-a-Porter to Sephora" along with many luxury fashion brands are jumping on the candle bandwagon. Quartz pronounced that we are now in the "era of the $800 candle".
Outside of candles, socks and cozy blankets, how has the Hygge state of mind taken hold? Going out has turned into "going in", and our homes have become the "it" destination, regardless of the time of year.
Our changing relationship with food majorly reflects this new state of mind. According to NPD, "the most popular place to eat out this year will be our own home", whether we prepare it or we take out. Restaurant dining is declining, and cooking at home is on the rise—82% of meals are prepared at home, and when Americans are ordering from restaurants, around half of them will eat it at home.
We can’t discount the impact that technology-induced convenience has had on our ability and desire to stay at home.
Not only can you order takeout via the Seamless or Postmates of the world, but you can also have your groceries delivered from the likes of Peapod, Instacart and AmazonFresh. And if you want to make it at home but not have to recipe prep, you can order meal delivery kits from Plated, Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. But if that’s too complicated, just order Daily Harvest and you can microwave or blend your frozen food and voila! There have been varying degrees of success and failures with these companies as they’re clearly trying to figure out the exact right formula for what we want, adding fuel to the proliferation of these services.
Another part of our motivation for staying at home is because nearly three-fourths of us would rather imbibe in a relaxing environment, per Mintel. For many of us, it's because we'd prefer bingeing movies from the comforts of our couch rather than going to the movie theater. Others say it’s because going out takes a lot of effort, giving rise to hilariously relatable memes like the ones below.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve become antisocial homebodies, the opposite actually.
Eating at each other’s houses has increased, especially in the last few years. Clearly supper clubs aren’t just for old ladies or Southerners anymore—if you don’t belong to one already, I highly recommend joining and/or starting one. Email me for recipes :)
Sites like Girls' Night In are cropping up that are entirely dedicated to the notion of staying in while still being connected. GNI has book clubs around the country and also just snagged a big round of funding to continue on this mission. Refinery29 talks about why staying at home with friends is cool now and Well + Good discusses the benefits for at home hanging.
What else has our hombodiness affected? Home decor and renovations. According to Houzz, the “home renovation boom continues with half of homeowners on Houzz planning to begin or continue renovations in 2018.” Gotta get your hygge style on lockdown.
And also, Pajamas! The rise in athleisure and the cultural acceptance for wearing workout clothes not just for working out has contributed to a new echelon of casualness—"sleepleisure". According to the Zoe Report, pajama fashion is the next big trend, and I don’t hate it.
What does this all mean? With our increasing time spent at home, marketers should be thinking about how to amplify their brands' experiences with this environment in mind. For example, if you're a vodka brand, perhaps you should be thinking about supper club cocktail recipes just as much as ways to woo bartenders. Anything that contributes to convenience and coziness will be a winner in our Hygge-loving hearts.