How will the 2021 consumer impact the pro …

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However, one change that has been particularly influenced by the pandemic is a consumer revolution, with consumer housing priorities and expectations shifting as people adapt their lifestyles. Yes, issues such as rising house prices and an uncertain economic climate remain significant issues, but the changing landscape of the real estate industry also presents an opportunity for real estate agencies of the new type of consumer.

Changes in consumer behavior

PwC, in its latest Global Consumer Insights Pulse survey, noted that consumers have been forced to become more resilient, both individually and collectively, as a result of the pandemic, adopting new habits, many of which appear to persist, which The company suggests that it signifies a “historic and dramatic change in consumer behavior.”

This is quite important, as consumer behavior usually doesn’t change so quickly, only adjusting in small pieces. The pandemic, however, has added fuel to the fire, both in terms of the digital transformation affecting the way we work and live, but also what people expect from a home.

It probably wouldn’t shock most people if being stuck at home forces people to re-evaluate what they’re looking for. In an age of limited space and we increasingly depend on technology to communicate – with the return of commuting, many owners and tenants are considering a more flexible / hybrid work option – location, location, location, location, location, location, location The location itself has become more flexible.

Consumer data company GWI acknowledges this shift, noting in its 2021 Consumer Trends Report that “consumer attention has shifted as the internet has spread to help us run our lives. more effectively, and their behaviors have also changed “.

It is young people who lead

In many ways, it is the younger generations who are leading the change that impacts the entire demographic spectrum. The next big group the real estate industry should have their eyes on is Gen Z – this group is around 16-24 years old and has been described by global professional services firm EY as “the next big disruptor” in the industry. sense of where so much is happening, politically, socially, technologically and economically, around which Gen Z grew up, but particularly in regards to how they interact with technology as “digital natives”.

With so many services now available on mobile and through apps, and with 75% of Gen Z consumers using a mobile phone or smartphone as the device of choice, the way forward will inevitably be tailored to this demographic, resulting in change and innovation for all consumers.

But it’s not just tech where Gen Z is driving more change, Zopa’s research has found that around a third of Gen Z have already saved over £ 1,000 and are the generation least likely to have. a form of debt. With up to 66% of Gen Zs already saving for a deposit for their first home, this puts them in a good position to buy a property ahead of the current average for first time buyers, around 34 years in the UK.

Stepping up a generation, Millennials (around 25-39) have also seen a shift in perspective over the past year, with the challenges of the pandemic influencing Millennials’ homeownership priorities. So much so that a Dynata survey found that 13% of millennials were directly inspired to buy a home for the first time because of the pandemic.

And while that might not seem like a noticeable increase, it could well signal the start of a behavior change among the generation that has often been dubbed Generation Rent.

In fact, when this perspective is superimposed on Aldermore Bank’s research, we see the very real beginnings of a shift in mindset: This study found that millennials were the biggest savers during the pandemic, saving more than anything. other group and increasing their personal savings by 32% in 2020.

Technology grows

However, the younger generations are not the only ones to change. GWI considers 2020 to be “Generation Defining” for Generation X (40-55) and Baby Boomers in particular, because from a digital perspective, the pandemic has had a deeper impact compared to younger generations. The same GWI report also found that 36% of baby boomers (the generation aged around 56 to 74 who have traditionally been slower to embrace the digital age) feel more confident in using new technologies. in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 10% compared to the second quarter. 2020.

For the real estate industry, it might be interesting to see that another survey of real estate trends found that 92% of baby boomers want virtual options on property visits to continue beyond the pandemic, with 81 % of Generation X and 86% of Generation Y consumers as well. expecting virtual viewings to continue, further indicating that these changes persist.

What future for the 2021 consumer?

There is no doubt that consumers are changing, whether it’s their habits or their priorities, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that while all generations of consumers are unique, they are coming together with a set of expectations. and values. This is a point made in a study by Accenture which found that half of all respondents in 22 countries and 25,000 respondents felt they had changed significantly in the past year.

This has led to a new type of consumer, in which the distinct values ​​and expectations of several generations merge into a more unique type of customer, what we call the TECTAC consumer. The TECTAC consumer is technology-savvy, experience-oriented, credibility-oriented, seeking transparency, demanding in terms of availability and valuing the community; and when it comes to their expectations of digital transformation in the provision of services by suppliers, consumers of all generations are gradually uniting in these values.

This universal transformation gives agencies the opportunity to reach buyers of all generations – because even though different generations have different expectations of their next home (like expanding, getting closer to schools, or just stepping out onto greener pastures), how agencies reach them is increasingly tied to the expectation of richer digital service delivery.

With so many potential and existing buyers and homeowners currently re-evaluating what they are looking for in a home, this will surely lead to a long-term shift in the market (to be successful in what is currently happening) as more and more people are looking to make a home that best matches their new priorities.

Whether it is, for example, the ability to work from home or on a more flexible basis, or otherwise, just how this new consumer engages with the real estate industry to buy, sell and rent homes. The consumer of 2021 has most likely changed for good, and it’s an opportunity for real estate agencies with the right technology behind them to embrace the digital revolution.

Interested in more information on how consumers have changed? Download your free copy of Reapit’s latest report on the (R) consumer evolution: how to attract, engage and retain consumers 2021.

* Mark Armstrong is the CEO of Reapit


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