Finding out what motivates audiences to make purchasing decisions is key for all brand marketers. The real challenge however stems from the fact that audiences are diverse and a one-size-fits-all approach to communications in the era of personalisation no longer works. From students to pensioners, brands must devise bespoke strategies to address and engage consumers in different life stages, ensuring an informative, enjoyable customer experience for everyone.
Our recent consumer research into the housebuilding sector revealed deep inconsistencies in how brands communicate with consumers in different life stages and the risks they face if they fail to tailor comms. Out of all the industries surveyed, housebuilding brands came second for not communicating enough, with 48% of pensioners and 43% of empty nesters receiving no communications through any channels, while 17% of students said they do not receive enough comms.
When thinking about how to adapt comms for groups in this sector, brands need to keep in mind that consumers across different life stages are looking for vastly different information. First-time-buyers want to know about finance, families are interested in information relating to ease of moving, while empty nesters and pensioners are after quality-of-life guarantees. Housebuilders however have been slow to acknowledge and address the diverse needs of consumers.
Tailoring comms for different audiences is far from the only area where the sector is falling short. The research revealed that social media is critically underused by housebuilders, with usage at a mere 14%. Housebuilding brands are still getting to grips with identifying marketing touchpoints along the customer journey, and critically when, where and how to use them, with social media acting more as a platform to drive brand awareness and advocacy rather than integrating it into the customer service space. But with one third of all UK adults now on social media or messaging platforms, housebuilders need to tap into the market – allowing a seamless journey between online and offline.
Some brands are also prioritising efficiency over effectiveness. The drive to efficiency can lead to narrow targeting, which in the case of the housebuilding sector seems to be the norm: new parents were the only group that reported exposure to outdoor advertising, one of the key touchpoints. But brands can only grow by increasing the number of people who buy them. In other words, to be successful, brands need to reach all possible buyers in a category. By focusing exclusively on existing customers, you are curtailing your ability to grow. Effectiveness can only by driven by scale and brands in the housebuilding sector need to go for increasing penetration, targeting all potential customers with communication that strengthens their relationships to their brand.
Take a leaf out of Redrow’s ‘make better memories’ brand campaign and you have the key ingredients to successful comms, not just for the housebuilding sector, but for all brands. Redrow’s campaign was underpinned with audience personas that defined different customers’ needs and wants based on the life stage they were a part of. By orchestrating a central campaign and using digital channels to programmatically deploy adapted creative to different groups, Redrow was able to create a meaningful connection to several different groups of consumers, based on what ‘home’ means to them. Brands should create umbrella creative platforms and then flex them according to the needs of specific groups.
Historically, Redrow had invested almost entirely in short-term, tactical marketing, prioritising conversion over building strong brand perception. The challenge for them was to stir things up and create a more compelling brand conversation. Following research that showcased how people perceived Redrow and their thought process when buying a home, Redrow structured a brand purpose surrounding the theme of creating ‘a better way for people to live’, which was adopted across the business as its raison d’être.
Once its core messaging was in place, the brand reviewed its portfolio to ensure that all architecture was aligned with its vision, proposition and what people cared about, therefore further strengthening the brand, instead of just focusing on the product itself. And with this in place, Redrow created the “Memories” campaign, showcasing moments that people experience in their home, made possible by creating a safe space. Bespoke content was then deployed across channels to ensure the creative was effective with diverse audiences.
As a result, Redrow saw a tremendous 80% increase in website traffic and a significant increase in branded search traffic and website visitors, leapfrogging its nearest competitor – a first for the brand.
With this in mind, it is clear that a brand-led communications strategy has a key role to play in propelling a brand forward. Brands need to not only create content relevant to its intended audience but optimise their offering for a wide range of consumers in order to remain relevant. Matching the frequency of communications with the correct channels is similarly huge asset when trying to ensure you are speaking to all buyers in your category. Ultimately, a strong brand goes a long way. But finding a distinctive voice and engaging consumers with emotional, yet easily comprehended creative is how you make your brand known to consumers. And the more consumers you speak to, the more your brand will grow.