New technologies have created an era of instant gratification, which has transformed our culture into one of self-actualizing perfectionism. Simultaneously, the sharing economy and co-working spaces are booming. This creates an interesting paradox for marketers, who have to respond to a generation of millennials seeking ultra-personalized experiences while still wanting to belong to a collective on some level. With this new generation now having the strongest consumer voice, strategies and sales funnels need to change to accommodate the zeitgeist.
As opposed to the baby boomer generation, which prioritized a nine-to-five job and raising a family, millennials can afford the luxury of “finding themselves” and doing what they love. As part of their precisionist world view, they are a lot more demanding than previous generations. This is true not just in terms of the quality of products they buy but the use of their time to learn about these products.
This trend cannot be ignored. As they mature, millennials have become the highest consumers of luxury goods and are now becoming the largest real estate buyers. Consequently, marketers today need not only to reach out to millennials but do so in the manner they expect. This means getting as personally relevant as possible. Recent surveys indicate that 61% of Americans are willing to share personal data for personalized marketing communications, eliminating as much irrelevant content as possible. Smartphones are the virtually inevitable extension of all millennial’s hands and the marketer’s portal to their minds and behavior.
Consumers now seek personalization in everything they encounter, from small tasks like shopping for a gift and ordering takeaway to bigger items like buying a house. Anyone who has attended or planned a wedding recently knows the popularity of personalizing the event with monogrammed napkins and decor. Online marketplaces like Etsy recently added a “personalization” function, stating that over 25% of orders had requested personalization. Big retailers like Nike and Converse allow you to fully customize your shoes online before ordering them, with everything from the color of the laces, to embroidered initials, and even the color of the shoe eyelets. The online world has become a paradise of personalized shopping for seemingly endless goods and services.
When it comes to online marketing in the arena of real-estate, the industry has made important strides. As a result of 99% of Millennials searching for a new home online, 3D and virtual tours have become common, and the first engagement with a property is now typically done through photos, videos, and detailed floor plans online.
But personalization in real estate sales needs to be further articulated and democratized, as it lags behind other sectors. One might think real estate marketing finds itself in a tricky position since the assets being sold are ones that seemingly need to be experienced in person, but in fact, offers are made daily without the buyer actually having seen the property. When online shopping began, people might have wondered “how can I buy a pair of pants without trying them on?”. But eventually they did, and now there’s no going back on online retail shopping.
Granted, real estate is not the same as a pair of pants, but the mental switch is similar.
However, now, the audience is already there — meaning, online. You may have to see it to believe it, but it doesn’t have to be in person. Today’s real estate buyers, renters, and seekers are living on the internet, and don’t want any of their time wasted. Showing new properties in person takes much more than the thirty minutes of actual apartment viewing, as both the seller and the buyer have to show up, find parking, see the property and then hike back to work or home.
Consequently, even well-established firms like Sotheby’s Realty are offering virtual tours and videos in addition to traditional floor plans. Furthermore, virtual and augmented reality facilitates the sale of pre-construction properties even more dramatically. Virtual and 3d tours are making life much easier for marketers working for developers since selling the dream becomes more of an (augmented) reality. Perhaps most engagingly, personalization in the form of VR and AR allows clients to understand what their specific interior design will look like. With 68% of adults saying they want to use VR to see how their current furniture looks in the home, it comes as no surprise that services facilitating this are rising.
The main challenge for real-estate marketing is that creating 3D models and virtual tours have been a very expensive and time-consuming process, even though its effectiveness is uncontested. That is where tools that simplify the virtual tours process like ours come in. We designed Visual Estate to be able to turn a PDF upload of a floorplan into a 3D tour within hours. We believe that the understanding in the real-estate marketing world is that personalization is the way to reach the hearts and pockets of millennials. Therefore, the future lies in making this process, better, faster, cheaper and universally available.
As time passes we see more startups that address personalization and customization of your home start to appear. Bygr.io, for example, helps homebuyers to customize their home in a personalized matter, showing the buyers what options they have, and guiding them in the process of creating their dream home while enabling clear communication for all involved parties.
Another example is Modsy, the famous interior design platform, which allows you to easily upload still images of your room, take a quick quiz to learn of your design preferences – and within 48 hours, get back a completely customized makeover of your personal space, including ways to purchase the proposed designs.
As customers continue to demand the personal touch, it is only reasonable that the supply side will grow as well, as more startups tackling the personalization issues of the real estate industry will emerge.