Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Modular Home Builders Need to Understand Young Buyers

If you haven’t taken the time to learn what makes young new home buyers tick, you could be missing a lucrative market. Starting wages for many of this year’s college graduates will be the highest in years. Many will want to rent first and buy later but that gives you, the builder, more time to learn about their buying habits and how to market to their wants and needs.

For starters, this group of young people have never heard of Enron, that Ringo is old enough to be their grandfather, they don’t have to travel to each other’s homes to visit face to face and that the first thing the word tablet conjures up is not medicine.

They order just about everything online, their phones and cameras have always been in one device and they have never had a roll of film developed.

They have never lost touch with anyone, unless they choose to. They can name all the actors who have played Batman including Adam West and there has always been a Google and Starbucks Coffee is reasonably priced.

Differences between generations are not new. Personally, my father thought that the Beatles' haircut would be the downfall of my generation.

Studies just a few decades ago had shown how consumers built collections of shoes, records, films or other things which were displayed as an extension of personality, a visual signal of what kind of person they were or wanted to be seen as. Who we wanted to be was, in part at least, about what we owned and displayed.

Today’s young new home buyer probably won’t get that. They grew up with downloaded films and music and social media. They don’t display CD cases or shelves of DVDs. Books are read on an e-reader. Photo albums aren’t leather-bound. Social media gives them the tools to craft an online image of themselves, which they show to the world. They might share music, discuss it online, “like” posts, products, brands or bands on Facebook.

If you’re over 35 you might find it a bit sad to think your children won’t want your record collection. In this open, connected, always-on world it is the digital properties that matter.

It is a more fundamental change than we have seen in recent generations, probably the biggest generational change in consumer behavior since the 1960's.

So here’s the challenge. To be successful as a modular home builder, you must evolve by understanding the changing market and choosing the right time to move from your old business methods and adapting to your new target market, all without abandoning the older demographic that you are comfortable serving.

As builders, we need to know them before they know us so we can build the right business for them when they are ready.

Understanding change is hard, but only because change needs us to leave behind all our baggage and look at the new generation without preconception.

And to make things even more confusing, all the gadgets and interactive social things they are doing today will seem so old fashioned to the young people getting ready for college this year. Who knows what they will be using. I just read that Google is working on an implant to allow direct connection to their cloud. Awesome!

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