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The Millennial Homebuying Surge (and How to Pivot)

The kids who grew up with CD Walkmans, Pokémon cards and Beanie Babies are now grown up and taking on their biggest purchase yet — a home. As a Millennial myself, on the cusp of buying my first house, I understand the impact our generation is having (and will continue to have) on the customer journey, from research to consideration to purchasing home products.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Metro Study’s article (1), 44.8% of Millennial households are homeowners, which accounts for a staggering 11 million households. They project that by 2020, 70% of Millennials will be homeowners, making this generation the largest group of homeowners. With the slow decrease in Baby Boomers buying homes, Millennials are coming into this game and shaking things up.

According to Zillow, 91% of Millennials start their home-buying journey online (2). Mobile devices are key for our generation (perhaps close to an addiction) to educate and equip ourselves with knowledge prior to meeting with a real estate agent, choosing appliances, looking for a flooring dealer or hiring contractors (and so on).

So, how can marketers pivot to the next generation? Here are eight great ways to reach us — the Millennials:

#1 Google
Search has never been more vital. With increased targeting capabilities available, you can effectively and efficiently put your message in front of the right audiences. You can also run display and video display banner ads, in addition to implementing an SEO campaign to monitor behaviors and keywords of your Millennial audience.

The key with Google search campaigns is to think about what we (Millennials) are searching for and effectively respond to our search query with relevant and applicable content. A key to successful SEO is continuous monitoring and optimization, so make sure you’re watching your campaign and make any changes as necessary, or seasonally, as patterns of home-buying change.

#2 LinkedIn
From a business prospective, LinkedIn is becoming a very strong platform for young professionals. Similar to Google, it has strong targeting parameters that incrementally include the ability to target by job title, company, associations, etc. This is an ideal venue for establishing communication with Millennials.

Sending a Sponsored InMail, which is a paid email sent via LinkedIn from an actual account, provides a more personal engagement. In addition, you have the ability to run native ads in the LinkedIn feed through sponsored content. With both options, recipients are determined by you. This helps ensure your message is being delivered to exactly who you want to talk to.

#3 Instagram
Sponsored posts on Instagram — the social media platform that is increasingly becoming more popular with Millennials than Facebook and Twitter — are an excellent way to unobtrusively place your message in front of the right audience. With Instagram’s targeting capabilities, your message will be seamlessly integrated into the feed of house-hunting and home-product-searching Millennials, and easily become a part of their conversation.

#4 Pinterest
In addition to the increased popularity of Instagram, Pinterest continues to be a strong platform for the female Millennial audience. In addition to inspirational images, including lots of lifestyle and home environment photography, posting articles and tips is also a great way to engage our generation.

While this may not be our first stop, we will eventually make our way to Pinterest for decorating ideas while we are house hunting. Adding Pinterest to your marketing arsenal is a valid strategy and shouldn’t be overlooked — just make sure your content is pin-worthy!

#5 Videos
Video content continues to be the dominant form of information consumption for my generation. Be sure to develop a robust content calendar that includes video creation. Millennials want to find their own information first, so these videos should be more educational and less hard sell. You have to charm, entertain and/or inform us first!

Plus, videos can be deployed and leveraged in so many ways on so many platforms: Social media pages. Your website. Paid digital ads. Streaming TV pre-roll. Dealer/distributor co-op. And that’s just the beginning!

#6 Webinars
Web-based video conferences, such as webinars, are great for engaging Millennials on topics relevant to them. As with your video content, make sure webinars are heavy on practical information and light on the sales pitch. Address questions Millennial consumers may be asking frequently, perhaps in the form of an FAQ homebuying series for first-time buyers or as a “how-to” on buying your first major appliance (for example).

In addition to brand exposure and awareness, webinars or other forms of online conference events can help position you as an industry authority or subject-matter expert. Including these in your content calendar can help ensure engagement is consistent. Plus, audience feedback can help you learn what’s resonating and what’s not. Tip: When targeting a specific demographic — in this case, Millennials — be sure to choose your host wisely.

#7 Influencer partnerships
Strike up a partnership with a local or national influencer for experiential opportunities. Influencers can include people like Tarek and Christina Moussa, stars of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop,” or even well-known builders or designers working in your own community.

According to a consumer study, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands (3). Influencer relationships can help build trust and legitimacy in your brand. Our generation values impartial reviews, so establishing opportunities for us to hear testimonials increases our chances of continuing our hunt with you.

#8 Online reviews and reputation management
Ensure reviews for your products/services are readily available for Millennials to find. Google is the lead site for online reviews, with 63.6 percent of consumers saying they are likely to check Google before visiting a business (4). As mentioned, word of mouth is critical, so it’s important that you seek and promote reviews from previous customers of yours who are willing to positively speak about their experience.

The key takeaway is to make your business and your information easily accessible to us. We’re going to find it anyway, so get in front of us and join our conversations. Millennials are a unique generation representing a major shift in the residential buying culture. So the sooner you optimize your marketing strategies to align with how we Millennials think and what we want, the sooner we all win.

If you’re struggling to get to know your audience and to understand their buying journey, let our Strategy & Analytics team help set you on the right path. Our Power team will meet with you and discuss your business and marketing objectives in order to develop a comprehensive strategic marketing communications plan.

BONUS: For more information on the incredible statistics around mobile usage and home buying, check out this link: https://realestateagentu.com/zillow-com-mobile-usage-statistics-home-buyers/

Sources:

(1) Meet the Millennials: Your Next Generation of Home Buyers: http://www.metrostudy.com/meet-millennials-next-generation-of-homebuyers/

(2) 2018 Real Estate Trends: How Millennials are Shaping the Home Buying Process: https://www.joinparks.com/blog/2018/1/31/2018-real-estate-trends-how-millennials-are-shaping-the-home-buying-process

(3) Bathroom Purchase Behaviour, Consumer Insight Report Oct 2013. Source: J M Blake Associates

(4) Google Is Dominating the Review Market: https://www.reviewtrackers.com/online-reviews-survey/

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