The Baby Boomer Effect Changes Everything in Discretionary Real Estate

July 7, 2017

Revolutionary – it’s the single best word to describe a generation that dramatically changed the way we live in America today. From music, entertainment and fashion, to diverse social and political causes – the Baby Boomers have been shaking things up since the 60s.

Real estate developers have been planning for the onslaught of retirees to fill their amenity-rich new home communities for years. After marketing to the Silent Generation for decades, many developers have yet to recognize the drastically different demographic and psychographic profiles of the emerging retiree market.

“Baby Boomers are living longer and seeking new ways to reinvent themselves,” says Stephann Cotton, president of Cotton & Company and Urban Land Institute Member. “They have a completely different attitude about life, and the greatest amount of free time in history of the world. They are looking for places that give them an opportunity to explore, learn and just have fun.”

The Baby Boomer effect is exactly what drove the dramatic repositioning of iStar’s Naples Reserve community in South Naples, Florida. The community was introduced to the competitive Southwest Florida market in an easterly location, pushing the boundaries of the developed area. With more than 1,400 homes to sell and a marginal market acceptance, Cotton & Company was engaged to jumpstart the community’s sales effort and reposition the community for the emerging market.

The new Naples Reserve marketing plan took full advantage of the Boomer’s fresh attitude and financial sensitivity following the downturn. Every aspect of the community was evaluated – amenities, home design, HOA costs, and the brand marketing. The program was targeted at the Boomers who are seeking less golf, more fitness and walking trails, and soft programming that provides an opportunity for lifelong learning, adventure, new hobbies and social interaction.

“We know the Boomers are ready to cash in on their longevity bonus, but they’re looking for something completely different than their parents,” says Laurie Andrews, CMO of Cotton & Company. “We developed Naples Unplugged magazine as a way to showcase the area’s diverse natural adventures, vibrant arts and culture scene and even the best dog-friendly dining and park around.” The magazine, along with a new website and digital marketing program, became the catalyst for promoting the new community tagline “Casually Awesome.”

The comprehensive program was launch in the Fall of 2016 and included a strategic content marketing program, broadcast outreach and multiple on-site events to showcase the new Island Club, welcome center, café, watersports, tropical pools and plans for a dog park and tennis/pickleball center. The laid-back lifestyle was promoted with a playful attitude and highlighted the low-cost HOA.
How did it work out? Naples Reserve’s sales skyrocketed by 500%–achieving the number one sales position in the region. “iStar’s forward thinking is a model for the industry,” noted Cotton. “Although it can be difficult to make such a dramatic shift from the status quo, developers must be focused on the next generation of homebuyers when evaluating land plans, amenities and membership programs. It’s no longer an option.”

To learn more about Naples Reserve’s success or how to transition your marketing campaign to reach the emerging market, contact Cotton & Company.

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