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Technology and Personalization are Finally Changing the Apartment Rental Experience

The multifamily housing world is finally starting to realize the value of branding, data, and connecting with their residents in new ways. Property owners are spending billions on renovating properties to give them certain, usually youthful, brand images but are missing out on what residents ask for – experiences. Companies that have built their brand on the outskirts of the real estate industry, like AirBnB, are now building their own apartments, along with experiences.

At first sight, this seems a no-brainer: invest in some nice perks for residents, have a identifiable brand, and cash in. Who knows have many millions have been given to consultants for that exact advice. What the consultants, marketers, growth hackers or any other talking heads won’t tell you is that creating a brand in this day and age is really hard.

Think about the most identifiable brands in the past. Coca-Cola, Ford, Budweiser; they all had direct competitors. Companies were able to use savvy ad campaigns to evoke emotions with consumers. Now think of all of the most identifiable brands today. Apple, Google, Facebook, these companies became the icons that they are by create an amazing, one-of-a-kind product. Today, brand loyalty is evolving from how it has been conventionally defined and catchy jingles or inspirational images are not what attracts today’s sophisticated consumer. To connect, brands must deliver a personalized customer experience to have a chance at securing loyalty over the long term.

One of the hard things about this proposition is that value is defined differently by everyone. All three of the companies I used as examples of today’s strongest brands have built products that are completely personalized to each user. Your Google search will return different results than mine, just like your Facebook page looks different than mine, just like our phones and computers have completely different app suites.

For the multifamily industry, lack of personalization is a major problem, according to Everett Lynn, founder and CEO of Amenify. “We [the real estate community] can’t deliver a truly personalized experience to our customers unless we know what each one of them wants, and when they want it. One thing we know for sure is that every resident is different. They will form loyalties with the brands that can meet their needs dynamically,” he said in a dramatic presentation at a Propmodo LIVE event in Los Angeles about multifamily innovations and tech amenities. Lynn’s company has created a mobile-friendly platform where the community can provide dog walking, apartment cleaning, personal training, or even an in-home massage under the brand of the property.

Here Amenify’s Everett Lynn explains why connecting with a modern day renter is more difficult than ever:

By doing this, rather than just referring new residents to services that they can hunt down and qualify on their own, Lynn feels that the landlord can reframe their relationship with the resident in a number of ways. “If you partner with an outside company or brand, in theory you have solved a problem for the resident,” he said. “But you have created a relationship between the resident and the partners brand and have removed yours. Provide those sticky lifestyle services under the brand of your property.”

Partnering for outside services is great, but it comes at the cost of your brand’s connection with the resident:

More than that, it creates valuable data on each customer. To truly build a brand out of an apartment, something seen as a commodity by most renters, it takes a personalized touch. Creating this personalization requires first-party data about each user.

It is important to remember how valuable a new resident is. Think about how much is spent by large retailers and home improvement companies to advertise in the USPS’s change of address mailer. “A new mover spends $9,500 and engages with 71 new brands in the first 3 months after they move. Brands want to reach them because they are forming new buying patterns,” Lynn pointed out.

Moving to a new home effectively creates a new lifestyle. Almost everything about daily life needs to be adjusted as new spending habits are established. This creates a unique opportunity for properties to capture entirely new cross sections of the resident’s wallet.

Lynn explains the possible benefits of leveraging technology to help a property and the community that it creates become a brand:

Connecting with today’s sophisticated consumer is not an easy task. It requires (1) data on what residents care about, (2) a way to deliver these services in an end-to-end solution – not a coupon, and (3) measuring success. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Companies like Amenify are working with real estate operators to take the leap beyond ‘four-walls’ and personalize our residential experience like never before.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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