#SocialThrowback2020: Traversing the landscape of Real Estate Marketing with Phil Dunphy

Aishwarrya Chakraverty
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Phil Dunphy Real Estate Marketing

Who better than our favorite real estate agent, Phil Dunphy from Modern Family to take you on a Ninja-ride of Real Estate Marketing in 2020.

Like every other industry, Real Estate too was impacted by the pandemic. 2020 required real estate brands to brave the effects of the lockdown which included hoards of professionals returning to their home towns vacating their rented spaces with rented offices too following a similar trend, pause on the construction of new projects, and slower sales. With digital marketing to the rescue, Real Estate brands marched forward in 2020.

Who better than our favorite real estate agent, Phil Dunphy from Modern Family to take you on a Ninja-ride of Real Estate Marketing in 2020.

Initial Phase - “Every Realtor is just a Ninja in a Blazer”

The Real-estate sector was on a boom in 2019 with more houses and office spaces being leased and built with time. The record-breaking supply activity from 2019 continued for the first two months of 2020. But as COVID-19 set in, this demand fell.

But as Phil Dunphy says, - “Every Realtor is just a Ninja in a Blazer”- Real Estate brands did not back down. Instead, brands attempted to make the most of such a situation. Within a few days, automation and digital became the buzzwords as technology became an enabler.

2020 transformed Real Estate marketing from a conventional model to a hi-tech and automated one, highlights, Prashin Jhobalia, VP, Marketing Strategy, House of Hiranandani. The initial months saw the marketers embracing digital over traditional media platforms, many leaders went a step further to launch digital projects in the next few months.

At a time full of challenges, as Phil rightly says, “When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life will be all, ‘Whaaat?’” Real Estate players too, anticipated the future to bring forward various strategies with discounts and offers.

Gauging the situation and to keep the purchase of the houses unabated, Tata Housing launched 'A Happy Place called Home' campaign with an offer to pay 10% of the initial amount of property and the rest of the amount in 2021.

Traditional marketing tools took a backseat with Virtual Online Tours, deployment of a series of new prop technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and video walk-throughs, enabling customers visualise the project from the comfort of their home. Video conversations became a norm and an accepted mode of communication.

Developers increased their digital spends in view of this huge untapped opportunity for newer ways to grab maximum eyeballs, puts forth, Mohit Goel, CEO, Omaxe Limited.

As the demand for owned homes and security increased, Raunika Malhotra, President, Corporate Brand and Communication, Lodha Group said, “We also observed that ready homes and their benefits have gained more consumer traction with the motive of end-use.”

With the re-emergence of Real Estate as an asset class, it was now being appreciated beyond its traditional financial value. The tendency to buy and own homes became pivotal than staying at rented places during the crisis owing to safety and shelter for people.

A few other Real Estate Marketing trends that emerged with the changing times are:

  • With the advent of Work-from-home, the need to travel far distances reduced and people were less hesitant to buy houses at distant locations
  • Rise of customers from Tier2/3 cities with the digitization of processes including virtual site visits and purchases.
  • Millennials too shifted from being asset-light to investing in homes
  • Influencer engagement made inroads for many Real Estate projects and marketing
  • Extensively leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn due to the constant presence of the TG on the channels during the pandemic
  • Increase in digital interactions before buying a physical project
  • Increment in dynamic content

As the focus also turned towards design, Real Estate marketers ensured to highlight the emotional+utilitarian attributes of a project to the buyers during interactive and immersive sessions of virtual tours and conferences.

Viral Oza, Chief Marketing Officer, Mahindra Lifespaces, explains, “COVID-19 resulted in an acceleration of design/architectural evolution, key aspects of which include - flexibility, functionality, and fungibility of spaces (for end-users).  Be it sanitization zones, home offices, or amenities for physical fitness, marketeers are revisiting and highlighting both the utilitarian and emotional value of multipurpose internal and external spaces, as defined by how they can impact our lives for the better.”

Also read: #SocialThrowback2020 Counting BFSI Marketing Trends with Scam 1992’s Harshad Mehta

Changing Consumer Behavior & Marketing Strategy - "Claire likes to say, 'You can be part of the problem or a part of the solution'. But I happen to believe you can be both."

With the pandemic, the end-user of the real estate industry had changed. However, the problem and the solution here were the same - while the consumers had changed their buying behavior, there was massive data available (due to the increasing digital transformation) in terms of what the consumers expected and needed.

According to the experts, consumers were more attracted towards brands that deliver on the promise of high-quality homes and timely delivery. There has also been a shift in people’s mindset, with the emergence of strong preference towards established builders, owing to the security their reputation provides, highlighted Sarthak Seth, Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Realty & Infrastructure Limited.

As people continued to stay more at home, Real Estate brands leveraged the emerging keywords such as hope, happiness, and togetherness with families based on the regular moments in the new normal and weaved campaigns around it.

While Lodha group launched a video campaign with Akshay Kumar sharing the relevance of 'Apna Ghar Apna Hi Hota Hai', Mahindra Lifespaces leveraged hope and nostalgia with 'Iss Ghar Ki Bohot Yaad Aayegi' urging consumers to enjoy the moments of joy with loved ones.

Tapping on to the consumer sentiment, in the latter half of the year, House of Hiranandani released the 'House of Happiness' Mega festival, leveraging the memories of staying in the safety and security of your owned homes, comprising a rent back scheme for two years with 'Beete Din'.

Acceleration towards the phygital approach for Real Estate Marketing seemed to become a norm when people became attuned to the virtual platforms - an unthinkable move when in the past when buying and selling of properties used to happen majorly in-person.

Snehil Gautam, Head of Marketing,, shares that People are now accustomed to video calls, Live tours, and virtual site visits leading to an increase in online bookings. To adapt to the increasing digital transformations spends on the medium saw a surge.

Many brand leaders plan to focus more on project-level content through promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even through native ads on Google and more.

Brands are now leveraging digital mediums for the following:

  • Enhance reachability of the brand,
  • Provide new experience for property viewing and sale-purchase and
  • Remain the first choice of homebuyers when it comes to choosing a property

To solve customer grievances, brands even launched real-time webinars instead of just sharing basic information. They went a step further to interact with the interested customers for marketing purposes and even sales.

With the problem and solution aligned, marketers, in the words of Phil had to be a part of both the problem and solution and get creative.

The Real Estate Advertising market according to Gautam stands at almost INR 3500 Crore market price. With the IPL season, the seasoned professionals in the A & M Industry further leveraged the following trends as a part of their strategy:

  • Association with OTT platforms
  • Increase in video marketing
  • Improved/pinpointed targeting and hyperlocal campaigns with customized communication
  • Radio and SMS marketing tactics.

Road to 2021 & Beyond: “Think inside the box. That’s right, I said inside. Because while everyone is chasing each other outside, what is the box? Empty.”

As we move forward on the road to 2021, leveraging digital platforms is a major part of the marketing strategy for Real Estate brands with a focus on driving awareness and consideration, depending on the consumer journey.

Further, as time rolls by, marketers intend to involve other media channels including print and outdoors. Some industry leaders cite that until they are able to deploy 360-degrees marketing campaigns the 40-50% of their marketing spends would be reserved for digital.

Gautam shares, “Real Estate is not a push product and you buy your home when there is a need to do that. Our strategy is to be on digital for 10-11 months and in between when a mega-event happens, we will Live on TV as well.” The brands intend to be present where their audience is present.

As Phil rightly says, "Think inside the box. That’s right, I said inside. Because while everyone is chasing each other outside, what is the box? Empty." Real Estate Marketing might have undergone subsequent changes, the need of the hour might be implementing the A-B-Cs of the marketing tactics in tandem with embracing the newer ways to sustain and stand out amidst the testing times.

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