Friday, June 3, 2011

If You Own, You've GOT To Understand The Generations

As some of us get a little older, we notice that our investors seem to be getting younger....

But as an owner of any commercial/investment property, particularly multifamily, its always a good idea to understand how our customers/tenants/residents/lessees think. And understanding that often starts with knowing how old they are, and what motivates their particular "generation." If you manage yourself, it wouldn't hurt to be aware of the following. If you use professional management, well its a fair bet that your management firm is boning up on this info themselves.

So, courtesy of Cam Marston at, here is a primer on Generational Differences, understanding how to push their hot buttons, and learning how to sell your property to them:

Matures -- born between 1909-1945. Traits are dedication and sacrifice. Believe that experience will always be the best teacher. Conformity, blending, unity, team. Hard times gave way to prosperity. To reach them as consumers: Show that you value what they've learned through their experiences. Quality is important -- emphasize it. Never mention a product is good for their age group. Standard and pre-packaged are good.

Baby Boomers -- born between 1946-64. Traits are being workaholics, competitive, they view success as "visible" (trophies, plaques, certificates), they are optimistic, they are consumers, and are defined by their jobs. To sell to them as consumers: Your product or service, or working with you, should emphasize time-saving elements; help them feel victorious -- they are competitive and want to win; become a member of their "team" because teams are important to this group; customize your service for the individual; and consistent themes within this group include "forever young" and "rebellion."

Gen X -- born between 1965-1979. Traits include questioning authority (they were taught this), they have no real shared heroes, they are somewhat disdainful of Boomers, this generation began the trend of parents and children as "friends, they are somewhat cynical and pessimistic, they have shorter time horizons, and have taken a carpe diem approach to their lives. To reach them as consumers you need to list every available product, service, option and solution; this group is VERY skeptical of too much advertising/hype or promotion; peer-to-peer testimonials carry much weight; and be prepared to answer "Why?" often; you will have to prove you are an authority.

Millennial -- born between 1980-2000. Key traits with this group are that these individuals are optimistic, they have been programmed and coddled, they are group-oriented, busy and stressed, like Gen X they were raised as their parents' friends, and while they are ambitious they appear to be directionless. To sell to them as consumers your product must have an immediate application to satisfy their need for instant gratification; your product or service must be unique to them and have individual relevance; they like to be admired as individuals; technology is assumed, and they are acutely aware of what others have and are doing.

Clear as mud, right? For me, the key to working with my clients' Residents or Tenants is understanding what makes them tick. Sure, to many old school owners it simply revolves around "pay your rent on time and you will be left alone."

But that understanding of their motivations can be another key factor to retaining quality lessees, particularly in multifamily communities.

Your mileage may vary. But its worth considering....

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