By Shaunik Sachdev
Every marketing course I’ve taken, all case studies – global or Indian – have been mostly about FMCG brands – from Coca Cola (or Heineken) to cookies and cereals. As far as I can remember, not a single professor has used real estate brand examples. And so it never occurred to a marketer that real estate was an option at all. Joining the Nestles or Britannias of the world has always been a dream, and doing large-scale TV commercials for them seemed like the culmination of a marketing career. At the bottom of the list was real estate.
Why? Most real estate companies use branding techniques in the form of sales brochures, posters and newspaper advertisements to promote their communication. And that was it. It wouldn’t take more than a three-person branding team to get this type of communication out every month. What could you sell? Size, location or price – in the most uninspiring way possible. I saw quarter-page ads on an inside that said, “A place you can call home, now with an indoor and outdoor pool and a jogging track built for residents only,” or it was pricing-linked, “Book today a price that you cannot get tomorrow, a price exclusively for you. “
Over time, we’ve seen this industry evolve, albeit slowly. Realizing that a website might be a good idea and that became a competitive advantage for RE brands – who can create a fancy website and present most of their information in a unique way. I remember my mentor at the agency in 2015 who told me to take advantage of this new insight. Everyone wanted a website and they are willing to pay.
But here it stagnated. Nobody wanted to sell campaigns, and the brands didn’t have serious marketing budgets.
Cut to today and with this digital boom, an otherwise boring industry is full of endless possibilities. With 3D videos, AR / VR taking over the user experience, video walkthroughs and the massive reliance on audience capture on digital channels – real estate is a big player in this digital world today. The entire shared economy (co-living & coworking) today depends on the digital.
Even brokerage firms, commercial and private listing platforms invest marketing money in digital channels in order to present themselves there.
A very interesting campaign that really sparked interest in this sector was carried out by Square Yards. The campaign was primarily OOH-based, with bold statements about the apartment search that was digitally replicated / complemented by a social media push. It bore a slight resemblance to Indigo Airlines, using sexual innuendo and linking it to buying a home. Beautifully crafted messages that really grab attention. What really caught on was the negative sentiment of many sensitive Indians on social media, which helped increase the reach of the campaign to thousands and, as I understand, drove website visits into incredible numbers. What a feast for the digital marketing executives waiting to re-market these users’ lives 🙂
The kind of content WeWork has released over the past two years to ensure their workspaces are safe is super interesting, relatable, and engaging. They’ve made sure their members or prospects are in a safe area by using simple, clean content. They go through one of their social pages and forget that it’s a real estate brand.
The type of video content created by Phoenix Kessaku is awesome – I sat in my luxurious home and could see every single corner of Phoenix Kessaku’s buildings, mock houses, clubhouse, infinity pool, and more. It was a joy and made a salesperson’s life so much easier. The further you look, the more you expect real-time property visits, and that makes one extremely optimistic about the sector.
With all of these changes and trends in the real estate industry, it seems that people can look forward to real estate brands and their work now and look forward to inspiring digital innovations in the years to come.
I also secretly hope that Netflix will put out more lucrative property shows like Selling Sunset in India and glorify the space.
-The author is the Chief Marketing Officer, your-space. Views expressed are personal.