Experiential marketing can put more power in the hands of the real-estate consumer
These are exciting times to be a marketer. The traditional models of marketing were challenging enough, the explosion of digital marketing models and metrics have completely changed the rules of the game. The customer is largely invisible and that has shifted the paradigms of marketing. The disruption brought by online marketing channels have not only resulted in newer Value Propositions being created but has also resulted in newer Consumer Experiences being delivered.
From the days of spray and pray, we have moved to deeper engagement with the consumer and from instinct driven marketing, we have taken a decisive shift towards data driven marketing. The explosion of the web as the new market place has resulted in far richer interactions between the brands and the consumer. This interaction is now far more personal and immersive. But this has also meant traditional captive environments which helped marketers deliver an engaging brand experience are no longer sufficient & impactful.
Brick and mortar businesses had captive consumers at doorsteps and brands had an opportunity to deliver a certain kind of experience in a controlled environment. However, barring a few, most of the brands wasted this golden opportunity and transactions took precedence over experiences. The ones which did, created a distinct and long lasting impression in consumers mind and reaped loyalty rewards.
The intervention of technology, however, has opened up a vast new world of opportunities for brands. Using the power of technology, brands can create fresh experiences frequently and keep consumers engaged. Brands have now started leveraging augmented reality, virtual reality, hologram projections and artificial intelligence to deliver a rich immersive experience to the consumers.
When it comes to real estate, technology has a larger role to play in delivering an experience to the home buyers. All this while, this sector has been driven by traditional channels of marketing. Developers never invested in engaging with consumers since the category has been largely transactional. Also it has been a ‘Seller’s Market’ with demand far overshooting supplies in past. However, most of them forgot one fundamental theory – buyers don’t just buy a house, they invest their life savings in their dream.
Over the last two years, due to multiple policy interventions and the course corrections as a result of the crisis in the real estate industry, we are at a juncture were supply has completely outstripped demand. In a supply heavy situation, consumers have multiple choices in hand and sellers are under tremendous pressure to liquidate inventory.
This has resulted in a major transformation and real estate is now a perfect space to apply the fundamental rules of marketing like building a long term brand, driving a USP, positioning consumer segmentation and matching offers with consumer needs. But at the same point of time, consumer have moved on and have also moved online. Hencethere are multiple things that needs to be applied to create a differentiator.
And one of the most critical differentiator that most of the brands will need to deliver is the experience. For long, selling an experience in real estate was limited to location visit and a sample flat, which was also not available in most of the projects. Consumers were not able to take a more meaningful decision because they couldn’t experience the product in one form or the other. This was a flawed process because it was incumbent on the consumer to visit the project site and seek out that experience. This goes against the grain of consumer marketing.
In a fast paced world, where prospective home buyers are pressed for time to make site visits, we have ushered in an era of experiential marketing with our Experience Centres in Pune and Bangalore. The Experience Centre is a wonderful experience of elevating the home buying experience by leveraging the use of modern technology under one roof in a 10X10. The Experience Centre marries the real and the virtual world together and brings a never before seen immersive experience for both the builders and the consumer. It leverages virtual reality, augmented and 3D hologram and aims to give the consumers an immersive experience of projects thereby offering an exact feel of the under-construction properties, property estimate and etc.
Experience Centres is a classic example of how experiential marketing is going to add value to the entire buying cycle for the consumer by eliminating pain points. The Experience Centre has five key features - discovery zone, virtual reality zone, hologram zone, multimedia screen and RFID cards.
The discovery zone comprises two interactive screens (65” and 22” full HD screens) to search for properties across localities and to shortlist projects. The virtual reality zone will help consumers take a virtual walk through of the sample flat and the hologram zone will render a 3D rotating hologram of projects at unit level, tower level or complete project level. The multimedia screen, which is a 75” 4K LED screen, plays HD videos and images of various properties and all registered users will be given a RFID card, which will also double as an USB drive and would store all the search details of the consumer.
This new age experiential marketing helps the consumer in two ways – first it helps the consumer make a more meaningful decision and secondly it cuts down on the investment of time, energy & resources in making site visits, doing multiple rounds of developer’s office etc.. This in turn shortens the buying cycle and helps developers. A consumer who was taking just 2-3 months to visit sites is now taking a far lesser time to shortlist projects hence bringing down the buying cycle. This also lessens the burden of inventory overhang for the developers and will rationalise the demand-supply ratio. An increased level of transaction will ensure better cash flow for the developer and improve the overall health of the industry.
Experience Centre also gets rid of the gender bias in the home buying process. Accessibility of this technology gives more power to female home buyers to take a much informed decision. From now on both the stake holders in the home buying process can take more meaningful decision.
We have just ushered in the era of experiential marketing in the real estate industry but we still have a long way to go. A consumer has a wide range of choices and today he/she wants a better deal not only in terms of the price but also in terms of the experience. The consumer now wants to 'live the process of buying the home' and not just buy it and live in it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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