Real Estate Developers Resorting to Unusual Marketing Techniques for Branding, Positioning and Generating Successful Leads

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Changing market trends, rising interest rates, stagnation in property market and growing competition in Indian Real Estate Market have made the property developers to move away from traditional marketing tools. Developers are not focusing toward adopting unusual tools, which are out of the box, so that they could make their projects stand out of the crowd and persuade home buyers.
Viral marketing, experiential marketing, personalized marketing, staging special events and many more activities; developers are trying out all possible strategies to raise their visibility in a cluttered marketplace as well as generate customers.
A new concept of ‘TRIAL APARTMENTS’ has been introduced by Aashiana Houusing, a leading name in Indian realty market, known for retirement homes in India. It is being considered as a novel concept of experiential marketing by experts. This concept aims at giving customers a firsthand experience of their projects, which would make them to experience the facilities, lifestyle, ambience and services of the projects before making a final decision to buy it.
Ankur Gupta, joint managing director of Ashiana Housing, says: “The real estate market is booming with different marketing and customer trends, particularly in the wake of globalization, which has not only spawned many new lifestyle trends, but has also made today’s homebuyers smarter and more informed. We are also continually looking for novel strategies with which we could serve our customers and maintain healthy relations with them. One of our most recent and out of the box initiatives, for instance, has been the introduction of ‘trial apartments’, which offer a personalized experience of our senior living projects to customers.”
This statement explains the answer of the question, why the developers are going beyond the obvious tools of marketing these days.
Telling more about the concepts of trial apartments, Gupta says that buying a home is an important decision and it becomes even more critical when it comes to buying a house for senior citizens, who have spent their entire life in a particular location. It becomes really difficult to move from a familiar location to a newer one at that age without knowing the comfort, services and facilities of that location.
“This explains why we have come up with the concept of trial apartments,” says Gupta, adding that people can come and choose to live at the trial apartments for three days or a week, depending on the time they will take in their buying decision. “So, we give them space for varying periods at a nominal charge and help them get a 360-degree-feel of the product.”
Ashiana claims to be benefiting hugely from the introduction of trial apartments, with the rate of conversion being almost 90% at its Utsav Bhiwadi project and 21% at its Utsav Jaipur project.
Other innovative sales and marketing initiatives adopted by Ashiana Housing to keep customers hooked include ‘viral marketing’, ‘live chat’ on its site as well as organizing events like ‘know your neighbours’. “While viral marketing – which uses social networking for increased brand awareness – is the most time and cost effective approach to reach out to plenty of customers at a time, the facility of live chat helps people address their queries and make a more informed decision,” Gupta says.
Mumbai-based Tata Housing is another realty major which is using a host of innovative marketing techniques – ranging from the ‘dabbawala’ activity to the ‘white Santa’ event and from street plays to taking the philanthropic approach during the festive season of Christmas – for branding, positioning and generating successful leads. In some cases, they are using theme-based marketing for their premium projects, while regional and local media and mediums are used for low cost housing projects.
“For low-cost and affordable-housing projects, we are using local train branding, theatre group performance in chawls and railway stations, dabbawala activity and branding in industrial areas, while our luxurious projects are being advertised in premium magazines, race course activities and club activation, among others,” Rajeeb Dash, head of marketing services at Tata Housing, says. Dash says developers have been employing different mixes in marketing techniques with the sole objective of promoting brand visibility and loyalty as opposed to simply propagating sales. This includes introducing various on-ground events like golf, music, theatre, polo or purely fun-filled days with games and events for the full family of existing buyers. “Such social events greatly aid in word-of-mouth publicity, that in turn helps improve brand credibility,” he says.
Although developers claim to be adopting innovative marketing techniques for all of their projects, industry experts say such tools are required especially for luxury and second-home projects, where demand has to be created. Whatever be the case, such techniques are often found to be giving tangible results, either in the form of increased sales or minimized marketing expenses.
For instance, Tata Housing has been able to tap nearly 24,000 prospective clients just by leveraging on the network of dabbawalas in Mumbai, while it was able to sell the entire Phase-I of its ‘Inora Park’ project in Pune just through the use of online media campaigns.
If we talk about the experts view about resorting to unusual marketing techniques, it may be a welcome step but this should not be aimed at creating false hype around a project. Also, some techniques may even backfire if they are not planned well.
“Today, customers are well informed and intelligent. Marketing campaigns might generate interest, but to convert that interest into actual sale, real estate developers will have to offer a better property than their competitors. With the peak in the interest rates, better deals in property loans also help in attracting customers. And some marketing campaigns, like bulk SMSs and bulk emails, may create negative publicity for developers and may put off their potential customers,” Neeraj Bansal, director (risk consulting) at KPMG India, says.
Some developers say that builders also need to focus on the quality of their projects as well as maintaining transparency in their dealings and should always refrain from giving false information or misleading customers.
“Homebuyers have a common complaint against developers that they usually do not deliver what they promise. This indeed calls for clarity from the developers’ end to keep the customer informed about the progress in various phases. The investor has not only his monetary, but also his sentimental and aspirational values attached with his dream home.
“Therefore, any changes in the area or pricing after the development tend to give a poor picture of the developer and the customer loses his confidence in the builder,” Pravin Malkani, president of Patel Realty India Ltd, says.
In order to maintain a healthy and long-lasting relationship with their customers, Patel Realty claims to be extremely transparent in their dealings. “Our advertisements, for instance, mention the ticket price of the apartment without any (*), that is ‘no conditions apply’. We are also among the few developers who display their project prices on the corporate website. Our website also displays the photographs of our project construction status which is updated on a regular basis,” Malkani says.
The Noida-based 3C Company also believes in having an ‘informed customer’, to be able to ensure maximum transparency in their project transactions. For instance, it claims to maintain a financial discipline for every project and keeps a strict surveillance on the schedule of construction to avoid deviations leading to delay in construction. It also consistently updates its buyers on the status of the project to make sure that their funds are going into the project, the firm says.
Brijesh Bhanote, director (sales and marketing) at 3C Company, says: “We strive to communicate what we can deliver and deliver more than we promise. Realizing the dream of a house is not only our job, we tend to celebrate it as an accomplishment together with our customers. Our aim is to put our customers first and deliver according to their need, be it location, design, technology or timeliness. Our focus on timely construction and proven delivery has helped in a faster capital appreciation for our customers and the company.”
Thus, it is clear that thinking out of the box may sometimes prove to be a good marketing strategy, but winning customer trust and building a long-lasting relationship with them won’t be possible unless the hype is backed by quality projects and transparent dealings.
Statement Source – Newspapers and reports

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