Day by day, it is obvious that businesses need to interact with existing and prospective customers using strategies. In the last two decades, new concepts, constructs and practices have evolved around sustainable communication of products and services.
This is clear when one looks at how the demographics and psychographics of prospective buyers and investors change every day. Fundamentally, the way real estate products are bought have changed. Our checks reveal that customers prefer message-based conversational communication channels. They want to engage marketers and brand managers in real time through live chat, Twitter and other social networking sites that make the inherent benefits associated with real estate products more conversational.
From the academia to industry, the submission is that real estate players need to key into conversational communication channels, which could help in generating big conversation data towards more value creation. Our analyst engaged Olusesan Ogunyooye, the Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Alpha Mead Group, a total real estate solution company in Lagos, on communicating and marketing real estate products in Nigeria in line with our recent research outcomes
What does it take Nigerian businesses to advertise real estate products and services in the digital space as the world continues to explore inherent benefits in emerging technologies and the new media?
The truth is that real estate products in Nigeria or any other country, like every other brand in the world, deserves and have a place in marketing communication. So I wouldn’t say it takes anything special for real estate products in Nigeria to explore any advertising space. The choice to advertise anywhere in the world is a function of the marketing strategy. Having said that, we can talk about the general nuance of the digital space in Nigeria and the culture that drives the use and interaction with real estate advertisement there. What we have seen is an increase in real estate advertising, particularly as more people begin to use the digital environment. However, there are only few exceptional use of the digital space by real estate products or brands. What is largely obtainable are push advertising. Only few real estate products are using the digital space to tell their stories or build their brands. It’s always “come and buy” “come and buy”. And the USP is largely on price.
For me, I’ll say what it will take for real estate products to harness the benefits of the digital space is to rethink our strategy. Tell our stories as brands, humanize our communication and create personality for our brand that the market can relate to. There are still a lot of opportunities for the real estate marketing space to evolve and digital will definitely play a huge role in that space. Real estate companies must continue to improve their product-market fit both from a pricing and new product development point of view to help harness the market’s interests into effective demand.
Exhibit 1: Real Estate Market Composite Interest IndexSource: Google Trends, 2021; Infoprations Analysis, 2021
In our analysis of Nigerians and brands’ conversation on Twitter on real estate products and services in 8 days, we discovered that a significant number of the conversation focused on locations where individuals can build their homes and investors can invest in than selling homes, lands and companies’ capacity to deliver the promised value? What can you attribute as influencing factors and implications for real estate marketing?
First, we must recognize that real estate at the heart of it is a commodity. And location is everything. Also, there are loads of real estate companies, but only few have the capacity to invest in defining their market and brand. So, what drive the market now is not where the investment is – which is location; it is how does the investment make me look. For example, people who live in VGC hardly say they live in Ajah. People who live in Sangotedo will say they live at Lekki Pearl Estate.
While it is true that Real Estate (shelter) is essentially in the Maslow’s Hierarchy, it doesn’t have to be owned shelter. So in the real sense, buying Real Estate falls within the unrecognized need quadrant of the Maslow’s hierarchy. This explains to you why people are buying real estate product for the design, features and the pedigree of the developer than because of the locations.
Real estate is about location, but location is not the major driver of demand, particularly when it comes to buying. Location is just one of the things. The market has emerged. People like to talk about themselves and where they live, what kind of cars they drive, what school their kids attend or religion denomination they belong and where they go for holidays are all things, they talk about to give them that feeling of fulfillment or accomplishment.
So, it’s unfortunate that most real estate companies are still talking about location alone on social media. The market has moved from there, investors are now smarter and brand now plays a big role in the overall transaction mix.
Exhibit 2: Real Estate Components Conversation on Twitter by StateSource: Nigerian Twitter Community, 2021; Infoprations Analysis, 2021
During the days, the Internet Users had significant interest in knowing Commercial & Investment Real Property, Apartments & Residential Rentals, Property Inspections & Appraisals and Real Property Listing more than Property Management and Property Development. Do you believe that low content publication and conversation on social networking sites could be attributed to the insignificant interest the Users had in Property Management and Development? What would you suggest as solutions to the low representation of the areas in the digital space?
The issue you refer here is the general low level of knowledge about the real estate sector in Nigeria. So, we can’t attribute it to low content publication alone. There is a deliberate work that real estate organisations must do to bridge the knowledge gap in the space. It just happens that content development and social media conversation are easy and low hanging fruits to address the challenge.
But the general issue is that real estate is not essentially as interesting or trendy as other asset classes such as bond, stock, et. Cryptocurrency is probably more complicated than real estate.But it’s tech. It’s trendy. In fact, you’re considered cool or savvy when you tell people you invest in crypto than real estate. Therefore, it’s a cultural shift in knowledge and the way the knowledge of each of the asset classes make people feel.
The way to address this is for real estate companies to appreciate that they are not competing against themselves. They are competing against alternative assets classes. When last did Real Estate trend on Twitter? But crypto trends almost every month.
So social media conversation and content publication are the place to start from. But there is the big question of how do we make the conversation trendy and drive interest of the digital natives. I’ll saying attention should be paid to content, not structure. How should we present the information about real estate, rather than what information should we present about real estate?
Our analysis also shows that the more people and businesses tweet messages that promote or market location, real estate companies and land the more people also seek information about them through the Internet. We found low interest in seeking information about price and investing in the market. What could you adduce for this disparity? What are the implications for the market growth?
I think the major disparity is what I describe as “willingness to pay” and the “ability to pay”. A lot of people want to own real estate. But very few have the ability to pay for it. So, the willingness is what drive people to find out more about the company, location, product and so on. But the size of pocket is what’s responsible for why the interest doesn’t translate to enquiries. There are a lot of factors responsible for the inability to pay. Chief of them is the economic situation and competing asset classes.
Exhibit 3: Share of Tweets in Share of Interest in Real Estate Components by StateSource: Nigerian Twitter Community, 2021; Google Trends, 2021; Infoprations Analysis, 2021
When you look out what you have to invest, even when you are sure that real estate is a more secure investment option, you ask yourself if what you have is enough to invest in real estate, and where it is, how liquid is the asset when you need quick cash. This is the major reason where there seem to be a lot of motion without movement in real estate demands.