Gen Y Consumers Choose Housing Differently
The most successful real estate communicators are the ones who can adapt to generational differences to deliver fresh, relevant and resonant messaging around issues such as housing decisions.
It’s been a long time since young, upwardly mobile professionals have made their choices based solely on whether the apartment was clean, affordable and spacious enough to store their stuff. Sure, these elements factor into the equation, especially during this time of economic uncertainty. But the apartment-rental checklist for today’s younger generations, particularly Gen Y, looks nearly nothing like it did for their predecessors.
That’s because to today’s Gen Y consumer — defined, roughly, as those who were born anywhere from the late-1970s to the late-1990s — choosing a place to live is more about how that space enables a certain lifestyle rather than how it defines the person.
It makes sense, after all. Most of us spend a great deal of time in our homes, whether they’re apartments, condos or single-family dwellings. So it only stands to reason that a living space have a direct correlation with our ability to socialize, to recreate and to connect in a meaningful way with people and places around us. I suppose there’s always been an element of “place-making” in our lives, whether we’re just finished with college or ready to retire. But Gen-Y consumers are taking that notion to new heights.
Unlike their elders, these individuals are pursuing living spaces that are located in, or within close proximity, to 24-hour cities where a diversity of jobs, people, public transportation goods and services are easily accessible. They also want authentic, dynamic gathering spaces in their buildings so they can conveniently build upon their network of friends and colleagues. These are the distinct lifestyle attributes that this demographic wants to realize through the spaces they live in and the neighborhoods where they’re located.
The trend seems to grow in strength by the week, so it’s imperative to craft the messages that will resonate deeply with these consumer groups. It’s also important that to employ the appropriate outreach vehicles as part of the message-delivery process when marketing to Gen Y consumers. Digital media is critical, as are discussion about “walkable, dynamic urban communities.” Other topics are:
- The benefits of limiting carbon footprints
- Promoting the environmental and economic sensibilities of smaller living spaces
- Helping renters to connect with their neighbors and local shopkeepers
- How well-designed projects engender a sense of community — both in the building and within the neighborhood
Some of these points were driven home in stories on the proliferation of apartment development from Urban Land Magazine and the Seattle Times. The rush to meet the Gen Y lifestyle needs is even impacting the way in which real estate firms approach commercial development, as noted here in an article on the future outlook for high-rise and suburban office projects.
Trends tend to come and go. But with some 80 million Gen Y consumers just now starting to enter the workforce, this one’s not going anywhere soon.