Baby boomers, not millennials, are the fastest growing renting demographic in America.
Conventional knowledge says that Americans aged 52+ have little interest in renting. It is largely accepted that most baby boomers are settled into long term mortgages or gearing up for retirement in their homes. In this case, conventional knowledge is incorrect, boomers are the second largest group of renters in the United States.
So what is causing this shift in traditional thinking?
In a word, simplicity. Boomers are starting to actively seek out communities that they can treat as a zero maintenance home base while they travel. They don’t want to deal with following HOA regulations, replacing appliances, and cleaning their pools. Empty nest syndrome shouldn’t be discounted as a major driving force either. When the kids are out on their own a simple 2 bed/2 bath place starts sounding more and more appealing.
Boomers control 70% of America’s disposable income. Yet less than 10% of the national multifamily marketing budget is spent on marketing towards them. What we have right now is an absolutely huge demographic that is ready to move in tomorrow, but aren’t getting any attention. Boomers must be tough to market to then right? Well, not so much.
According to a JTurner Research, advertising to Boomers is actually far easier than you might think. You are likely already going through all the correct motions without even thinking about it. The top three in-home features they seek are a full kitchen, maintenance free living, and storage. From a community standpoint boomers look for a quiet and safe place with leisure amenities. Essentially, they want a community to live in that offers them peace of mind so they can just enjoy life. Features like pools, tennis courts, ponds, or BBQ areas really sell; Boomers want amenities they can enjoy with their grandchildren.
I know what you’re probably thinking; you already market your community amenities and basics like kitchens and storage. The issue very well could be the mediums in which you’re spending your advertising dollars, not your amenities. While there is a ton of overlap between what millennials want in a community and what boomers want; the two don’t consume media in the same way.
The old trope that people in their 50’s are disconnected from technology doesn’t ring true for Boomers, they do however connect differently. 69% of Boomers use Facebook, 23% use LinkedIn, 24% don’t use any form of social media at all. So while your presence on Facebook continues to hold a ton of value, it’s not the most effective marketing medium.
A majority of the boomers on social media do not use Facebook in purchasing decisions. They trend more towards using it exclusively for personal connections. For the 52+ crowd physical collateral is still king. According to Nielsen, Boomers still account for the second highest consumption of physical media, trailing only behind Americans aged 65+. So while they will almost definitely view your website, property collateral is what gets in them in the door.
In a world with property websites, review websites, social media, apps, and smart phones; the most formidable weapon in your marketing arsenal may still be traditional physical collateral. At the very least it’s the most effective way to market to the generation that still carries America’s checkbook.
It’s long been accepted that going without a website is leaving money on the table. I’m here to tell you that going without a mobile solution is just as harmful to your bottom line. Pew Research recently found that 64% of Americans own an app-capable smartphone; and 10% of Americans access the internet exclusively through their phones.
Apartment apps have been overwhelmingly well received among renters in recent years. They are quickly catching fire as a must have amenity for modern communities. Still, most communities haven’t jumped on board; early adopters are striking gold by marketing to completely untapped demographics.
Must Have Features
As is the case with any relatively new market, there are more than a few fly-by-night companies trying to cash in. Industry experience is a must when choosing an app company to work with. Beyond that, there is a staggering amount of features available, some more useful than others. With that in mind, I have constructed a quick “Must Have” guide to assist you in choosing the best app for your community.
Push Notifications – Push notifications boast a 40% click through rate, for those of you that keep track of your property e-mail campaigns 40% is likely a pretty wild number. E-mail, by comparison, has a 1.94% click through rate in the apartment industry. Push notifications allow you to utilize hyper targeted prospect remarketing on the fly. You can send new move-in specials or just check-in with prospects to help coax them back to your property. Prospects that slipped through the cracks because of vacancy issues can easily be notified when new openings arise as well. The advantages to current residents shouldn’t be overlooked either. You never have to fret over holiday party invitations or sharing scheduled maintenance times again.
Android & iOS Compatibility– This may seem like a no brainer, but many app companies stick to one discipline. What you wind up with in this case is a chunk of your residents and prospects being alienated. One of the last things any community wants to do is negatively impact their residents or prospects sense of inclusion. It’s important than you are completely certain that the app you choose is compatible with as many devices as possible.
Property Information Features – A well designed mobile app can potentially serve as your properties mobile brochure; making your community more accessible than ever.
From high quality photos, to pricing, to floor plans; you can really pack a lot in. Prospects can even schedule visits to your community. Having an app that is loaded with property info, contact information, and an “Apply Now” button helps make the move-in process easy. Which in turn, will increase your residency numbers.
For residents, contact information and event calendar buttons really help build that ever elusive sense of community. However, the biggest feature you should be looking for is mobile rent pay, it’s a big time seller. Residents will appreciate the convenience of being able to pay rent from anywhere that they have a mobile signal. Bonus, you’ll likely see a tangible increase in on-time rent payments.
Other crowd pleasers to keep an eye out for include: Social media integration, Maintenance requests, and Built-in info about local dining, entertainment, and shopping.
While the process may seem daunting, you’d be surprised how easy and affordable setting your property up with a mobile app actually is. Not only will it make your residents happy; your bottom line will thank you for adopting a solid mobile solution as part of your overall marketing strategy.
The team at MultifamilyApps has worked in the multi-housing marketing business for over 25 years. In 2016, we created a mobile solution allowing communities to reach residents and prospects where they spend the most time, on their phones
Americans aged 18-34 are officially the largest apartment renting demographic in the United States. As of 2015 there are 75.4 million people classified as “Millennials”; 78% of that population, or roughly 58.8 million people are active renters. It doesn’t take a leasing genius to see the essentially endless potential in catering to these prospects.
So what do Millennials like to see in properties?
This can’t be oversold enough when you’re leasing to the generation that needed an app like Pokémon Go to even be bothered with walking. I can check the news, pay my bills, order lunch in advance, and call an Uber before I even get out of bed in the morning. With that in mind, it starts to make some sense that dropping by the leasing office and calling in can be perceived as tedious.
Properties that invest in a sort of “one stop shop” solution are seeing serious benefits. For the cost of installing a new trash can you can purchase a custom app with contact info built in, calendars, push notifications, maintenance requests; the list goes on and on. The ROI on mobile solutions is through the roof, just make sure you get your entire leasing staff on board.
Non-standard amenities have been sweeping the multifamily industry in recent years. Some of my personal favorites include rock climbing walls, putting greens, bike storage lockers, an in-unit wall mounted TV, a monthly farmers market, and on-site fitness classes. Obviously a few of these are unrealistic for some properties due to location and cost. Others might find that they are surprisingly affordable.
For example, hosting a pop-up farmers market or food truck bazaar costs your property close to nothing. As a matter of fact, you’d realize a net gain if you decided to charge a fee for the space being taken up. Regardless, it keeps residents in the community and talking to one another about how awesome it is to live on your property, they will likely invite their friends even. The potential for new prospect outreach is through the roof.
Events & Community
There are some variables that really can’t be controlled; inflation, job changes, residents buying homes, etc.… Most property managers can attest to the fact that the list of “unavoidables” could go on for days. The counter to all of these variables is building the kind of community that people don’t want to leave under normal circumstances.
Most communities throw holiday parties, raffle off prizes here and there, or give out small gifts at the gate to celebrate things like Valentine’s Day. In theory, these solutions have a really great potential ROI and can have a major effect on your resident’s sense of community. In practice, many properties fall short when it comes to actually pulling residents in, or closing the back door.
Typically, a maintenance person or leasing consultant sticks a paper invitation on every door in the community. Your Facebook page is usually updated with a reminder; some communities throw up some physical media at the front entrance. The problem here is that most residents don’t even look at door notices before throwing them out and even less check your social media page on a regular basis. So what’s the solution? That same “cheaper than a trashcan” mobile solution mentioned previously. Spend 2 minutes sending out a push notification from your app and everyone with a mobile –aka all of your residents- will immediately get an invite. The goal is to never have a resident say anything like “I didn’t even know we really had community events”. It’s a common statement that can reduce renewal potential every time it is muttered.
One thing is certain, whether you’re located next to a major university or a major business center, Millennials are going to come knocking. The question property managers should be asking themselves is whether or not they are prepared.
Ok, ok, hear me out on this one. I know the thought of a free mobile game based on a 90s cartoon driving leases sounds ridiculous. Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of upside to embracing this fad; even if it may be a flash in the pan. Pokémon Go is overwhelmingly popular with the Millennial renting demographic, which as of this year is the largest in the United States. It is already on the verge of overtaking Twitter in daily active users. The potential for property marketing is without limit.
It is well documented that restaurants, museums, zoos, and theme parks have seen considerable upticks in customers thanks to the app. An ice cream shop owner in Anacortes, Washington actually claims Pokémon Go saved his business. Obviously, getting prospects to sign a lease isn’t equivalent to getting them to purchase a chocolate double scoop cone. Pokémon Go won’t be filling units like granite countertops or a brand new pool; but it has potential to give you a leg up on the community next door, and most importantly, it’s free advertising.
Alright, so I’ve captured your interest, now how does it work?
Pokémon Go uses a huge location database that Niantic, the games developer, created for another title called Ingress. It creates a sort of world within the real world, complete with catchable Pokémon, Pokestops (Recharging stations), and gyms where players can battle one another. Pokestops are the only way to play the game without paying actual cash. They allow players to get important items that are otherwise only available for a few dollars at a time.
Just for the sake of example, the community I currently live in has two stops at the front entrance and is adjacent to a fitness trail with two gyms and an additional six stops. Players flood in daily from the trail – which has seen a huge uptick in traffic as well – to visit the stops on the property. In my apartment’s case one of those stops is the leasing office (jackpot). I have overheard no less than four people speaking enthusiastically about how much they’d love to live here. Property managers across the U.S are sitting on similar gold mines and doing nothing about it.
The best part about developing a Pokémon Go marketing strategy is that it’s relatively low risk. It costs less than a community Christmas Party to effectively roll out a comprehensive campaign. Just a few free or extremely low cost ideas include:
• Setting up a sign at the front entrance that says “Pokémon Trainers Welcome”. It’s a simple gesture that will do wonders for foot traffic. During business hours you can even set up a small booth near the sign and hand out water and snacks along with your properties collateral. Residents that play will appreciate it as well. Bonus points if you set up a mobile quick charge station at your table
• If you’re lucky enough to have a Pokestop on your property, advertise it on your social media pages. Take pictures of all of the action as it goes down throughout the day and share all of the fun with prospective residents.
• Another great strategy for properties with Pokestops is to place lures throughout the day. Lures cost $1 a pop and last for 30 minutes, they cause more Pokémon to show up in the immediate vicinity. In my experience they also cause a ton of people to wander in.
• Offer specials to Pokémon Go players; renters that come in and show you their Pokémon collection get their application fees waived for example.
• Host small competitions for residents. For example, the strongest Pokémon caught on property grounds on a Saturday could earn a prize. App store gift cards are inexpensive prizes that are highly sought after by would be Pokémon trainers. If your property has a mobile app (Shameless Plug), send push notifications to generate excitement.
For properties that didn’t win the Pokestop lottery, keep an eye on Niantic. They have already announced that in-app advertising will be making an appearance. In this case, businesses will be able to pay for stops and gyms at specific locations. So your leasing office could conceivably become a hot spot for players in the near future.
Although so much about Pokémon Go’s popularity is still up in the air, it’s an extremely viable short term marketing concept. Some think it may be the first game to finally crack an incredibly lucrative geo-targeted consumer base. Others are entirely convinced that it will fade into obscurity in a matter of months. Regardless, the opportunity to build good will with residents and bring in fresh prospects shouldn’t be ignored.
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