Dawn of a New Era

April 16, 2009
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ag dawn1 Dawn of a New Era

I have some hero worship going on with a variety of marketing types, including Aaron Strout, mentioned in a previous post.

Another marketer I respect, David Armano, recently published “Marketing In A Post-Consumer Era“, which I found very compelling.  With his permission, I’ve included quotes from David, along with his famous graphics, and offered my point of view on how it applies to the real estate industry.  [Fingers crossed I don’t disappoint him].

Once upon a time …

Check David’s diagram on Pre-Consumer attitudes below.  What I keyed in on is the “modest consumption” behavior.  At one time people bought a home with intent to one day host a Mortgage Burning Party.  It was where they would raise family, retire, enjoy their twilight then leave the house as a legacy for their children.  And, the thought of taking a Second Mortgage was considered a desperate act [clever banks would later rebrand 2nds as HELOCs – “a wise use of equity” – but, I digress].



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armano 1 Dawn of a New Era

A good example of this behavior is my father – who has had the same car for years.  He balks at my suggestions to replace it, as “it runs just fine”.  After all, he’s retired, so why would he spend money on a car, when he can travel?  He simply buys what he needs.     

We like the boom!

Now, let’s consider the Consumer Era or recent “boom” years created by easy access to credit, and how this applies to real estate.  I remember a statistic that people lived in their homes an average of 5 years [will be interesting to re-measure that trend in 2012].  Granted, we are a more transient society than in previous generations – jobs change, lives change, etc.  But, in essence real estate during these years was almost considered disposable, as it was an easy-to-get asset which could be easily replaced.

armano 2 Dawn of a New Era

Credit lines have ensured that we can purchase beyond our means and advertising has had years to perfect its craft making us believe that we don’t want the latest and greatest product-but that we actually NEED it.” – David Armano

When I read David’s quote, I thought of the McMansions “owned” by 30 year olds.  I mean, do two people “need” 15,000 square feet and an 8 car garage?

Bye bye bling

Then it all came crashing down.  Hard.  The heartbreaking perfect storm of financial markets collapsing has people making big changes, and realigning priorities.  First, we cut back out of necessity.  Now it seems attitudes have aligned with our new more modest lifestyle. 

[Sidebar: was this more simplistic set of values lying dormant deep down inside, or do we feel the need to justify a forced shift in lifestyle by making it the social norm?]   

As a result, there is almost a revolution against excess.  Even fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has proclaimed “Bling is Dead”.

Now what?

According to David, people are searching for more meaning and relevance in their lives.  With that in mind, they may be reconsidering what they really “need” when buying a home.  Not to mention the lack of confidence that real estate is a sound investment.  I believe we will see the latter dissipate over the next 18 months, but the shift in values may remain long-term.  

armano 3 Dawn of a New Era

Is everything old new again?

Yes.  And, no.  In this Post-Consumer Era, there are great similarities: primarily our moderate consumption and our re-use of goods – although these days re-use is fueled by the green movement as much as moderation.

The future of business will be simple. Providing better products, better experiences and providing indisputable value through things like services will get the right people saying the right things about you.” – David Armano

As it relates to you, how will you provide a better experience and be of more value?  How will you position homes to prospective buyers?  Consumers are empowered with more information than ever – not all of it accurate – and have networks of strangers that they trust more than advertising and marketing campaigns.  How will you differentiate yourself?

 

Graphics courtesy of David Armano

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Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.


18 Comments

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  5. This slapped my attention. I’m going to save this, share this, read and read this. I’m with you…it’s a new era.

    Like some big brained person said, don’t remember who, “It’s the strongest, fastest or best looking who survive, it’s the most adaptable.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Nice article and graphics!

    What amazes me is that the “Consumer Era” got so out of hand and was paid for by HELOCS that were made possible by artificial home equity spikes that were made possible by poor lending standards and the Fed pushing cheap money. The end result should have been anticipated!

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  8. I do agree everyone is thinking more conservatively all the way around. Now in saying that I still see many buyers wanting the big house, the granite.

    However, the attitude is changing in many area’s.

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  10. Hey Brandie –

    Great and interesting post. I happen to think David Armano is dead wrong on this, and conducts what amounts to wishful thinking rather than actual analysis, but… reasonable folks can differ.

    I for one will believe that “backlash against bling” is real when the sales of the iPhone drops. (See this chart). Unless Armano is prepared to argue that people NEED the iPhone….

    -rsh

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  12. Ken – Thanks! Coming from you that means so much.

    Missy – it will be interesting to see the differences in attitudes over the next 18 months … I’m sure we will have plenty of discussion!

    Rob!! – My friend … is this our first fight? (Kidding.) You raise a good point re: iPhone. I just don’t know that people see an iPhone as bling – but rather a more pricey necessity (iPhone over freebie from service provider). That can be justified.
    Let’s consider recent outcry over executive salaries and bonuses and talks of the Government enforcing caps (not talking AIG here). I think there is an attitude shift toward excess, but will agree it is selective. I mean, outrage over salaries … but not at celebrities driving the Bentley du jour …

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  14. We could never have a fight, for my love for you runs mountain high and river deep.

    We could have intellectual disagreements, of course, and I guess I just don’t buy the argument that iPhone is not seen as bling. That Apple “connects with consumers” in some different way than “Buy Buy Buy” — as per David’s thesis.

    Apple is one of the most brilliant advertisers in the world, because Steve Jobs knows how to do presentations. The recent iTouch ads showing video games… what is that if not “buy bling buy” appeals?

    Plus, bling is always justified by the buyer. :)

    BTW, I’m writing a blogpost in response as well. :)

    -rsh

  15. Brandie, in your post you posed the question; “As it relates to you, how will you provide a better experience and be of more value?”

    I look forward to reading the upcoming responses to that question.

    Primarily, I would like to know if, as a professional real estate advisor, you (dear readers) still feel the need to do ALL your administrative tasks yourself?

    Why not give your clients the “better experience” and “more value”? Stick to your core competency and outsource the rest of it.

    Imagine the experience you could create for your clients if you had more time. Imagine the energy and time you could put into prospecting online, or off.

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