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Marketing Real Estate Developments to Gen Y: The Virtual Sales Centre Frontier

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Looking into the future, real estate developers are facing major challenges when targeting the young Millennials. As this emerging buyer groups continues to browse online more and more the question will become, how do you sell a property to someone who doesn’t visit the sales centre?

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the young people ranging from 18-34 years old who make up a large portion of the current real estate buyer’s in the market. In fact, according to a new report issued by the National Association of Realtors (USA), Millennials now compose the second-largest group of recent home buyers, making up 28% of the pool.

This challenge is not real estate specific. This group is proving difficult to traditional marketers across all big ticket item industries as this generation is younger, wealthier and far more tech savvy then previous incarnations. The general attitude seems to be a reluctance to visiting brick and mortar outlets as they prefer to browse online and learn about products from the comfort of their homes. And really, who can blame them?

For instance, this shift can be seen in another industry similarly characterized as a well thought out, large financial decision - the car industry. Dealerships have reported less clients coming in and browsing the lot, with many buyers skipping the test drive! Customers have already done their research online and know exactly what they want, down to the latest feature and color. So how do they reach them? Well in 2012 Cadillac unveiled their ATS model and they used mobile applications and augmented reality to highlight a 3D model of the car and show their vehicles driving through recognizable global landmarks. And what did it accomplish? Firstly, it made the brand relevant to a younger consumer group that generally wouldn’t have Cadillac on their radar. Secondly, revitalizing a brand that buyers may think isn’t as technologically advanced as its German rivals.

The same shift is happening in real estate and we would argue that this shift is even more dramatic given the comparative lack of innovation in the property industry. As busy buyers continue to be plugged into their mobile devices, do you think they are going to spend their valuable free time visiting endless sales centers comparing print handouts? We don’t. Young buyers tend to gear away from sales representatives and prefer not to interact with someone until they know exactly what they are looking for. And most leading urban developers already know what buyers are looking for; modern finishings, open room concepts, outdoor space and so on. Digital tools allow developers to highlights these features without requiring buyers to walk into their sales centres.

And the best news yet, developers can easily measure the return on their investment down to price per lead acquisition which allows them to focus their budget on what works and stop using what doesn’t.  Traditional marketing campaigns and advertising is costly, however with new far reaching applications and engaging sales tools the marketing campaign shifts from an offline push strategy to an online pull strategy allowing the development to speak for itself.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine incorporating your print campaign with your digital campaign. Buyers could view a print ad, move their mobile device over top of a floor plan with an invisible QR code and reveal a 3D home model. On their tablet or phone, clients can walkthrough real pre-construction units including experiencing actual views and finishings. It’s as if they are interacting with a video game which engages the end user. This concept allows buyers to experience a new Virtual Sales Centre, catering to buyers who prefer to shop with their feet up on the couch.

There is no doubt this is different than the current sales model. However this is how marketers are predicting new clients will prefer to be engaged. Gone are the days when these marketing tactics seemed like futuristic concepts, now properties are accessible to anyone and anytime through mobile devices and tablets.

Moral of the story: mobile applications are changing the way the real estate market experiences properties and if you don’t have a way to stand out, your project will just be another commodity.