Several reports indicate that the Nigerian real estate sector grew and also declined in some quarters between 2016 and 2019. In 2016, the sector was one of the sectors that experienced the high impact of recession, which cumulated into worst growth. Through policies and initiatives of the Federal Government, the sector exited recession in Q1 2019 after contracting for 12 consecutive quarters. Unfortunately, it entered stunted growth in Q2 2019 with a 3.84% contraction, outperformed 19 sectors to post worst growth during the quarter.
Beyond the statistics, our conversation with the experts and professionals in the sector has established that communicating products and services using the right approaches, people and materials could enhance the fortune of the sector. They were of the view that players need to key into changing demographics and psychographics of potential organisational and individual buyers. One clear strategy proposed by the experts and professionals is the strategic use of digital platforms. According to them, the world of buying homes and other real estate products including services has been disrupted by the emerging communication technologies. The world is now digitalised and buyers want to experience the digital process towards sustainable value derivation.
Like other markets, Nigerian players are also employing digital platforms for their products and services marketing. Despite this, there are challenges and issues in the approaches being used to communicate value to the prospective buyers, our analysis reveals. We understood this through the mapping and analysis of 11 companies’ messages on LinkedIn and Facebook in 6 months out of 33 companies initially select. The companies presented in Exhibit 1 are those with the needed content for our analysis during the period. With this, our analyst argues that it would be difficult for the companies without messages to make significant contributions to the understanding and the growth of the sector. The results establish several implications and the need to revisit processes being used for content development and people producing the content.
Exhibit 1: Select Companies and their Characteristics
From the analysis, it emerges that Alpha Mead Development Company and Sujimoto mostly marketed future city/estate during the period. Alpha Mead promoted its Green Park and Lekki Pearl Estates extensively, while Sujimoto deployed its marketing resources towards public and prospective homeowners understanding of LucreziaBySujimoto, a project named after Lucrezia De Medici, the “daughter of the richest man in the world” and one of the most prestigious queens of the 15th century Florence.
Examining the most marketed products, we discovered that owning a house or invest in real estate in terms of buying houses for commercial purposes, having commercial property and a place in future cities or estates in Lagos State were mostly promoted by the players at the expense of purchasing land, built houses and offices [see Exhibit 2]. We also found that abilities and capabilities of building houses and other building structure categories were not properly communicated.
Exhibit 2: Dominant Products promoted by the Companies
The Place of Emotions in Wooing Buyers and Investors
Our team was more interested in understanding digital marketing practices through social and professional media when the data signified that digital marketing personnel of the select players deployed varied emotions in the messages that promoted the products presented in Exhibit 2. It is an established rule that wooing prospective home buyers and investors require proper understanding of their emotions and capitalise on them (emotions) while developing contents because buying real estate products it is highly emotional.
For instance, buyers who are interested in healthy and safe environment will quickly respond to messages that include nostalgia, commitment, humour and happiness. In Exhibit 3, it is clear that the players prioritised happiness in marketing of land, specialised knowledge, skills, expertise and professionalism in developing houses and constructed offices. Surprisingly, they failed to emphasis happiness in the messages that promoted owning a house or invest in real estate products and future cities or estates in spite of having significant messages on them [see Exhibit 3].
Exhibit 3: Emotions in the Messages that promoted Real Estate Products
The Language and Psychology of Marketing
Since emotions play a significant factor in buyer impulse, our expectation was that we would find appropriate language usage, especially appealing to the psychographics of the prospective home buyers. This is premised on the fact that ‘most housing market models are based upon rational choice and optimizing behaviour.’ In this regard, we categorised players language use into three -rational, certainty and inhibition. By rational, we discovered that there are signs that buyers would be perceived as analytical based on the use of words, images among other illustrations that accompanied the analysed messages. The certainty represents the extent to which the players through the marketing personnel were sure of what they marketed, while inhibition signifies the possibility of perceiving the select players as questionable, doubtful, limited, or debatable.
Sieving through the data, we discovered that the marketers were more rational in promoting built houses, offices, commercial property and owning a house or invest in real estate products. Despite being more rational while promoting owning a house or invest in real estate products, our analysis reveals that the level of certainty was better than what was found for future cities or estate promotion (21%). One of the surprising results is the low level of certainty discovered for the promotion of abilities and capabilities of constructing houses, and high level of inhibition found for commercial property marketing [see Exhibit 4].
Exhibit 4: Underlying Language Tones in the Messages
What are the implications of these results on prospective buyers and investors? We explored this further using real time data [see Exhibit 5] along with the 112 messages of the select companies within the period of analysis. We used real time data of the buyers and investors, mined from October 28, 2019 to January 25, 2020 (a 90 day period) to understand the degree to which the dominant emotions (joy and sadness) in the messages facilitated the interest of the buyers and investors in land and house purchase, renting offices and investing in real estate products.
In October, 2019, analysis shows that the reflection of happiness in the messages connected with the buyers and investors’ interest in lands, houses, renting offices and investing in real estate products by 41.8%, while it only facilitated their interest in the products by 17.5%. In November, 2019, the linkage and facilitation reduced to 39.4% and 15.5% respectively. A surge in the connection and causation was found in December, 2019. During the month, the dominant emotions ensured 40.2% linkage with the interest in the products and 16.1% facilitation in them. From January 1 to January 25, 2020, the dominant emotions ensured 45.8% connection and 21% facilitation.
Exhibit 5: Cumulative Public and Buyers Interest in Select Products
Clearly, the results are positive in three months out of the four months, but when we examined the interest using disaggregated approach (employing daily interest in land, house, office and investment) [see Exhibit 6], we discovered that the construction of the messages with the emphasis on the consequences of not purchasing land, house and renting office with adequate values increased interest in the products considerably than the adoption of happiness-centric approach. Analysis further reveals that the happiness and sadness were not enough to increase buyers and investors interest in real estate investments every day of the period of the analysis.
Exhibit 6: Emotions and Disaggregated Public and Buyers’ Interest
As stated earlier, the results have several implications. It is obvious that marketing personnel, most importantly those managing digital platforms need to improve on the frequency of communicating products and the use of emotions and language. The results have also established the place of having what our team describes as POLE, which entails a proper understanding of existing and prospective buyers and investors before constructing messages and institutionalisation of tailored emotions in the right products or services.