When it comes to today’s multifamily marketing tactics, the game is changing. No longer will a bus stop sign or an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper suffice to fill apartments. The changing demographic of renters means using new marketing tactics and avenues—namely digital.

In today’s world, marketing through innovative and engaging channels is key. The savviest of property managers and corporate marketers know they need to stay current with digital trends within and outside the multifamily industry. More marketers than ever before are finding success with social media, engaging websites, and out-of-the-box digital advertising. This new way of marketing is due largely in part to a dramatic shift occurring in both the US workplace and, in turn, the real estate market—specifically multifamily housing as new generations enjoy the flexibility and affordability that renting offers. But what is the shift, exactly? Two of the biggest demographics in history are hitting the real estate industry in huge waves: Millennials and Gen Z’s.

Millennials make up the demographic following Generation X, born between 1982 and 2000. Gen Z follows Millennials, born from 2001 and ongoing. Beyond birth year, just who are these new renters and buyers and what do they value? These are the first questions property managers and marketers must ask themselves before attempting to develop effective digital marketing strategies.

Who Are These Generations?

The Millennial generation is officially the largest in US history. Over 10,000 Millennials turn 21 every day in America, and by 2018 they are forecasted to have the most spending power of any generation to date. They also react differently to marketing tactics than marketers are traditionally used to.

Earlier generations, such as Baby Boomers, tend to engage with and react to print ads and billboards, such as those that might promote a new multifamily property. In contrast, Millennials and Gen Z renters were born into a supremely digital environment. They are never more than a few seconds away from brands sending marketing messages their way. They’re served non-stop ads via their devices and social media, and this constant connection and curiosity plays a critical role in how they make decisions. Brands can say what they want, but these channels allow other consumers to share their experiences and opinions openly. So, while the value of other customers’ opinions is universally high across generations, Millennials and Gen Z have much greater access to both express their own opinions and access their peers’ viewpoints.

A combination of technological change, globalization, and economic disruption have produced a different set of behaviors and have exposed these new generations to vastly different experiences than those before them. They have been slower to marry and move out on their own and have shown different attitudes to ownership (of cars, homes, and even clothes) that have helped spawn the “sharing economy.” Recent NMHC research revealed a shift in household composition of young adults (18-34 years olds) from 1980 to 2016. Interestingly, the share of apartments with married couples dropped from 30% to 21% over that period, while the segment of apartments with roommates increased from 12% to 22%.

What Do These New Generations Value?

These are the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop and interact online. They expect on-demand processes, instant gratification, immediate access to information, and collaborative crowdsourcing (just think about the sheer number of comparisons and peer reviews available on just about everything). They seek transparency and empowerment in all they do.

And property managers / marketers have to move FAST to get their attention. The average attention span for Millennials is only 12 seconds and drops to 8-seconds for Gen Z’s. They are turning to companies that offer the maximum level of convenience with the highest touch service at the lowest cost.

These beliefs and expectations also translate flawlessly to real estate. Millennials trade space for location and they want to live near like-minded people. Multifamily professionals say the common thread that connects Millennial and Gen Z groups is the desire for a low-maintenance, urban—or at least walkable—experience, enhanced by amenities, services, and technology that create a communal live-work-play nirvana.

Why Does Knowing Them Matter?

These generations will—and already are—impacting the multifamily industry. Millennials have entered their prime working and spending years. Their impact on the multifamily industry is being felt with construction numbers and record-breaking rent increases. Add to that over 83.5 million Gen Zers that are and will be entering the rental market and it is very hard to dismiss the impact. These demographics matter, and knowing who they are should matter to everyone in the multifamily industry.

Knowing and understanding how a core audience groups things and acts is critical to the success of any marketing endeavor. By creating an ideal persona for an ideal renter, multifamily marketers can uncover the best ways to reach them. Finding out what matters to them, where they shop and how they behave online allows marketers to be where they are and providing the type of content they are looking to consume.

Given the aforementioned attention span (or lack thereof) these generations have, it’s imperative to reach them to market properties on the right device at the right time. They have an expectation that the brands they interact with will understand them and appreciate them. While this is true for e-commerce retail brands, it is arguably even more important for communities where they’ll make their home.

Knowing the target audience is only the beginning though when properly building your marketing plan(s). Next is finding where these audiences are and how to best reach them, which we’ll cover in coming blog posts.

Interested in seeing how multifamily real-time video technology can resonate with these new generations? Schedule your Realync demo today!