I was very lucky to be invited to an event called ‘Melbourne’s Apartment Market Snapshot’, which is part of Urban Development Institute of Australia’s research breakfast series.
Robert Papaleo, the National Director of Research at Charter Keck Cramer, presented this event to a nearly 300-strong audience, hailing from various sectors throughout property development: real estate groups and developers, banks, architectural firms, investors and the like.
We were given great information by one of the country’s leading advisory firms, and whilst the room assessed their businesses and products against the facts, I sat, chewing my corn fritter and wondering how this will affect property marketing creative.
Pick your target
Strategic creative is formulated to directly address a specific target market. The direction of the housing market, its complexity and internationalisation, will obviously have a direct effect on what creative agencies are producing. However, we read all sorts of things on the papers and the Internet selling stories like ‘Melbourne oversupply catastrophe’, ‘Australian housing market forecast impending bloodbath…’ ‘Collapse and irreversible doom and gloom’. How can creative strategists sift reality from melodrama? What is the target market ultimately looking for in 2015?
Charter Keck’s property research specialists are not into theatrics. Here are the facts1:
- Melbourne is going gangbusters in CBD and Inner City apartment developments, compared to Sydney’s growing trend in development in the middle suburbs. Last year, there were 281 new projects released, incorporating nearly 25,000 new apartments.
- This year, it is anticipated that another 306 projects will be completed, with an average size of 65 apartments per project.
- Melbourne is the primary destination for offshore developers. The number of apartments being delivered by Chinese developers is almost evenly split between Melbourne and Sydney. In contrast, developers from Singapore and Malaysia are more prominently represented in Melbourne.
- Offshore investors and owner occupiers are moving away from smaller 1-bedroom apartments in the business districts and opting for 2-3 bedroom apartments and townhouses in the inner suburbs.
So this is what we have: the market is nowhere near slowing down – it will remain competitive and highly aggressive; there is a skew of offshore developers originating from other South East countries, not just China; and there is a growing preference for more space outside of the city.
There is also the sad reality of the ‘red alert’ that’s been declared for the air in China. The highest level of alert under the four-tier warning system, ‘red alert’ effectively declares the air in China’s main cities as toxic. We see wealthy Asian families assessing the sobering possibility that their one child will grow up with some form of chronic lung disease, and so they turn the future of their family – and wealth – towards the ‘most liveable city in the world’.
The marketing of these developments to offshore buyers is centered on lifestyle: our award-winning educational system, our expanse of green and water, the country’s safety, multiculturalism, the high potential of return of wealth.
Clever creative needs to step up, both on digital and on print. And clever creative only works when it comes to the party with good, creative strategy.
At Yoke, for example, we’ve created campaign messaging that zeroed in on Melbourne’s ultimate aspirational lifestyle, sometimes giving the actual development itself second place in the hierarchy of messaging.
However, owner-occupiers and investors are astute. They know Melbourne’s a hot topic. They’ve done the numbers, they’ve Googled, they’ve done the due diligence. A sceptic eyebrow is raised when they see beautifully designed brochures brimming with lifestyle images of schools, restaurants, parks and happy people, and only a handful of renders of the development itself. A need to investigate the quality and value of the actual product – particularly the people behind the offering – comes into play.
Clever creative needs to step up, both on digital and on print. And clever creative only works when it comes to the party with good, creative strategy. Quality is too abstract a concept. The same is true of concepts like ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’ ‘timeless design’, ‘exceptional apartment living’ etc. There are too many marketing campaigns trying to say and do everything, while they all end up just saying and doing the same thing.
Say what you mean, mean what you say.
At Yoke, we believe that a marketing campaign works best with a definitive concept, clearly expressed. Something that puts that message directly in front of the consumer through tactical and tried and tested avenues.
Whether it be online, or beautifully printed deliverables, the campaign will only work if the strategy is geared towards a single, simple message that the target audience will truly respond to. Execution is only as good as the strategy behind it, and the marketing will only see success if the strategy is based on genuine facts.
With the 300+ new projects set to launch in 15/16, I predict we’ll see a move away from marketing an ‘aspirational lifestyle’ and towards presenting what is real and unambiguous; here are location images showing exact kms and walkability scores; here are team profiles including previous projects, qualifications and success rates. Less fluff and more data.
And the messaging will most probably change from “enviable, perfect lifestyle” to something simple, direct, and clear: “Live in Melbourne. We have air.”
1 Charter Keck Cramer 2016.