Trends 2018: Everything we do must be worth it to our customers

By Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, Principal of tst ink

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Small batch vs. large brands. Independent vs. big label. Easy vs. complicated. Sharing vs. owning. We are living in a time when customers crave connections and contributions that matter, and where they trust their own instincts and those of their circle of influence more than anything we can tell them. The most important trend that will impact housing in 2018 is the need to matter to customers. The reason why is because when the attainability of housing in many areas is a stretch, every penny a customer spends must be worth it to them. To them. Not us. 

The cold reality is they just have more choices and options now that don’t fit with the historically-prescribed life journey the housing industry has been dependent on. Back in the day, we could create communities and build homes, then create messages to push out to customers and expect them to buy. When home ownership may no longer be the highest priority beacon of success, and experiences trump things, and personal freedom is key, if we aren’t creating communities and homes that make life easier for how people want to live today we will fail. 

In every industry today, customers are rejecting the same old established way of doing things, for more meaning. They want brands and experiences that are in service to them. That matter to them. Over at least the past 5 years “understand your customer” has been an oft-repeated catch phrase, as has a commitment to “customer experience”. These are great aspirations, but in order to matter to the people who live in our homes and communities, we need to care about more than demographics. Most developers and builders have a handle on these – age, income, household formation. 

Demographics tell us who they are. Behavioral data tells us what they did (who bought what, how much did they pay, how did they shop?). And psychographics tells us about their attitudes, and why they did it. It’s at the intersection of these three, where we will find what it takes to matter. By observing actual customer behaviors, and analyzing the why behind it we will have a better shot at predicting new home and community innovations that truly meet our customers’ needs. It will take the curiosity of a sociologist and the discipline of a data scientist to look through all three lenses at once. And those who succeed will have a lot of runway. 

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki

Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki is the principal of tst ink, bringing a customer-focused “how might we?” approach to creating communities and brands that connect and engage with how people want to live their lives. 

Check out the other articles in our 2018 Trends Series: