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A few blogs ago we talked about 2022 trends in marketing – the growth of the crib economy was one of them. But what IS the crib economy and, more specifically, how does the crib economy — and other geographical patterns — impact your area and your business?

In this blog, and using Greenville, SC as an example, we’ll look at:

  1. How Covid changed city and suburban demographics. 
  2. What is the crib economy? 
  3. How post-covid changes have affected Greenville, SC — and how they may be affecting your city. 
  4. What does this trend mean for your business and your marketing?
  5. What could success look like? 

How Covid changed city and suburban demographics. 

In the spring of 2020, the realities of a highly-contagious virus forced life online rapidly. Companies moved their workforce to a work-from-home model, stores found ways to sell goods digitally, and everyone’s daily routines were upended in a way that none of us could have imagined. 

As quarantines and lockdowns stretched from one month to two months to three, patterns began to emerge that are still in effect today. Large cities saw an exodus of people as families and couples moved to suburban areas to enjoy greater space and mobility during isolation. Many people moved states, traveled to warmer climates, or committed to a nomadic lifestyle while logging in remotely. *Fun Fact: today, 10.2 million Americans define themselves as digital nomads, working remotely while traveling.*

For those who didn’t embrace nomadic life, homes became a sanctuary. People started shopping online, investing in outdoor and indoor renovation projects, and adapting to new family rhythms. In short, what started as a temporary adjustment has, after two years of living that reality, become a permanent change. People got comfortable in their homes and many grew to like the flexibility of working from home. 

What is the Crib Economy? 

The growth of the crib economy, like many things in our current world, is a reaction to the covid-19 pandemic. Put simply, the crib economy is the new economic environment caused by the growing number of people who now use their home as their base for working, shopping, and nearly all other aspects of life. By marrying the convenience of the online world (who doesn’t want to join a meeting at the last possible moment?) with the functionality of services like Grubhub, DoorDash, Instacart, and Amazon, many people discovered that they could work, shop, and communicate from a digital platform while being more present in the home than ever before.

A shot of the Greenville, South Carolina cityscape during sunset.

These updated patterns, shopping behaviors, and daily rhythms have changed the stereotypical behavior of many individuals. People are logging on at different hours, for instance, early in the morning or late at night when the kids are asleep, and finding a work-life balance that works for them. Thus the crib economy, and remote work as a whole, will continue to grow as an option. 

How post-covid changes have affected Greenville, SC — and how they may be affecting your city. 

Greenville, SC — our home city — is an excellent example of these trends.

A smaller southern city, Greenville has seen explosive growth in the past few years. From 2000 to 2020, Greenville gained around six new households every week. Today housing prices are projected to grow by 6% over 2022 with real estate sales volumes increasing by 11%. If you live in the Greenville area, it’s not uncommon to hear a realtor complaining about the lack of inventory or a home buyer commenting on how difficult the market is. 

Even cities outside of the Greenville city limits are growing. Travelers Rest, a smaller town near Greenville has seen its population grow by 70% since 2010, and communities like Simpsonville, Mauldin, and Greer continue to expand rapidly with the influx of new residents. Once sleepy small towns, these locations are becoming tourist destinations in their own right with much to offer new residents.

Greenville’s growth has also changed the demographics of the city. The median age in Greenville is 38.5 years, a little younger than the figure for the state, and millennials in Greenville account for 27% of the population. 

What does this trend mean for your business and your marketing?

First, your consumer is different and wants different things. The audience studies and profiles you had pre-pandemic may not be accurate anymore. In fact, the way you understand your city and your usual clientele might not be accurate anymore. 

It’s wise to take a step back and ask yourself — is my area growing or shrinking? From that answer, work outward. It’s important to note, whether your area is growing or shrinking, there’s always an opportunity for your business to get creative and reach new or current customers.

If your area is growing, seize the opportunity to try new marketing tactics. Run Google Ads or Social Media Ads targeting new users who may not know about your business. Prioritize localized SEO and look into what SEO opportunities will help you rank well online. Try a print campaign or sponsor a local event — focus on introducing your brand both digitally and physically with the understanding that your target audience, more likely than not, spends just as much time online as they do in public. 

If your area is shrinking, focus on the people in your area. How do you meet their needs or alleviate their pain points? Reintroduce your organization in the community via social media, events, etc., and show yourself to be the organization that understands who your audience is and exists to help them. Personalization is the name of the game, especially as we emerge from a time of extreme disconnectedness. 

Pro tip: If your brand appeals to a nomadic customer, consider widening your scope and targeting the new group of digital nomads. The internet is the new frontier of connectivity and appealing to new clients and new users is easy with a strategic partner and a little bit of creativity. 

In both markets, growing or shrinking, continue to question your assumptions and dig into how your product or service helps your user. Even post-covid, people still have wants and needs and your company may just be the thing that someone is looking for! 

What could success look like? 

That depends on your company and your business, but the best example we can provide is the story of Quartermaster Properties. (Full Case Study here).

In the summer of 2021, Quartermaster decided to try something new and asked Engenius to help them launch a pay-per-click and SEO campaign targeting their main audiences. After a few months of SEO work and successful ad placement, Quartermaster Properties saw a noticeable increase in qualified leads and began running ads for their Charleston location. Since then, their offices have been exceptionally busy–so much so that they’re considering expanding!

What’s the moral of the story? Opportunity is out there — whether it looks like Search Engine Optimization, Google Ads, or Digital Marketing, or traditional marketing avenues. It might look a little different in this new post-covid world, but with the right strategy or the right partner, it’s possible to see success targeting your audience. 

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