Green Home Features Should Appeal to What Women Want
With research indicating that women influence more than 80% of final decisions in all home purchases, builders need to identify and focus their green marketing efforts on new technologies that women want and need, according to panelists at an educational seminar during last month’s International Builders’ Show.
“”Why is the ‘green goddess’ important?” asked Linda Hebert of Diversified Marketing and Communications in Pleasanton, Calif. “In the new ‘she-conomy,’ women spend $5 trillion annually. More than 50% say they want more green choices and women represent two-thirds of the voters who cast their ballots on environmental issues.”
When talking green to the female buyer, Hebert said to focus on four main areas:
- Lower home operating costs through cost efficiencies reflected in utility bills and decreased water usage
- Increased comfort through more effective design and HVAC technologies
- Improved indoor quality that offers a healthier indoor environment for the family
- Enhanced durability and less maintenance through the incorporation of longer-lasting materials that require fewer resources for replacement and reduce long-term repair and maintenance costs
Among the emerging technologies that are catching the eye of the female buyer are tools such as wireless energy dashboards that sit in the home and monitor energy data from the electric meter so the home owner can gauge their energy consumption, said Celia Canfield, chief development officer of West Coast Green, based in San Francisco.
“Women like getting into details and measurement devices,” she said.
The female buyer is also concerned with other technologies that can save water such as tankless water heater systems and rain water harvesting that allows rainfall to be collected from roofs and recycled for gardening and other uses.
Most consumers have still not connected the concept of “green” with their homes, said Sara Lamia, president of Home Building Coach Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo., and in order to get more sales, you need more “first dates.”
“Women are the decision-makers and the kitchen is the best venue,” said Lamia. “The room is likely to feel familiar and comfortable. You need to make her understand that green is chic and it is healthier. Show her the cost savings.”
Like any first date, Lamia said that appearance is important in order to draw interest and make a sale.
Items such as recycled glass and brick, environmentally friendly flooring options made with sustainable harvested wood and insulated concrete forms or structural insulated panels have a positive impact on the female buyer because they can be easily incorporated into the building plan.
“The buyer can see that she can get what she wants and get something beautiful without having to feel guilty about it,” said Lamia. “And it’s actually a stronger product. What’s not to like about it?”
High atop the list of what drives women’s decisions is family health, which means that healthier indoor quality is a compelling reason to buy green, said Lamia. “We know that asthma and allergies are at an all-time high. She’ll get the benefits of healthier air right away.”
Other useful marketing tools include visual aids such as cutaway walls or thermal photography that illustrate how to improve the home’s energy efficiency. Women also need to touch and feel the warmth throughout the home and be able to hear how quietly energy-saving appliances run.
Lamia also said to stress the cost savings of a green home. “The operating cost is less, even if the home costs a bit more,” she said. “Green-certified homes hold their value better compared to non-green homes.”
To help close the sale, Michelle Roberts, the business development leader for energy-efficient homes and buildings for Owens Corning, said builders need to listen to their customers and highlight their credentials.
“The more you can offer in regards to credibility, the better,” she said, suggesting that builders showcase their resources, materials, credentials, awards and more.
For information on green building resources available from NAHB, e-mail Calli Schmidt, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.