Conventional market feasibility alone is limited by the unique nature of the market ó older persons donít neatly fit in to employment or earnings classifications. Assets beyond home equity can be difficult to measure. And, because there typically is little urgency for these buyers to move, just because prospects fit your profile doesn't necessarily mean that they are likely to purchase a new home from you.
Understanding the psychological factors that influence consumer motivations is key, and that means understanding what makes a mature buyer decide to move and decide that they are entitled to a new home.
To reach their target audience, successful builders for active adults need to learn several things about their prospective customers:
- Their hopes and dreams for retirement
- How they view their lifestyle, especially as it relates to time spent at home and how they use their home
- Whatís most important to them in a new home and community
- What a new home in a new community can offer that the current one does not
- Barriers to moving
- Who is the decision maker in the household and who influences the decision to purchase a new home
- How much time they expect to spend at their primary residence
Qualitative research techniques for making these determinations can include:
- Analysis of visitors to your sales office to determine whether they are qualified and seriously considering moving, to learn what they find most and least appealing, and to assess competitive issues
- In-depth interviews to probe consumer perceptions and to evaluate specific aspects of a project, such as architectural styles and floor plans
- Focus groups to explore lifestyle and life-stage issues, to gather opinions regarding site or floor plans, to prioritize features and amenities and to determine what consumers want most and what they are willing to pay for in their next home
- Surveys to determine customer satisfaction with construction and service, to assess and find ways to improve a companyís reputation for quality and service, to assess the performance of subcontractors and to improve product and sales.
Since mature buyers are highly influenced by the opinions of friends and they are likely to be an influence on others who decide to purchase in the community, telephone surveys on customer satisfaction are well worth the investment.
Builders know how to develop new communities and build homes, but building for active adults goes beyond that. It hinges on creating a lifestyle that they long to experience, a community that will enable them to enjoy their desired lifestyle and a home that mirrors their image of themselves as they enter the best years of their lives.
Consumer research is the key to understanding and creating that product.
Doris Payne, a gerontologist, is the senior consultant at Marketscape Research and Consulting, which is based in Chula Vista, CA. She and her colleagues work nationally with home builders to assist them in designing, answering questions and making decisions about conventional and seniors for-sale and rental housing. Payne is a member of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council and was a speaker at the 2003 Seniors Housing Symposium. She can be reached by e-mail or at 619-934-1816.
2004 Seniors Housing Symposium
To learn more about the seniors housing market, plan to attend the 2004 Seniors Housing Symposium, Building for Boomers & Beyond: It's All About Lifestyle in Chicago from April 14-16. The symposium will focus on the lifestyle component of 50+ seniors housing.
Seniors Housing Council
For more information about seniors housing and the 50+ market, visit the NAHB Seniors Housing Council Web site at www.nahb.org/seniors. To join the Seniors Housing Council, click here or e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.
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