Know Your Market: Amenity Trends Through the Generations

September 9, 2020

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Megan Wolfe

3 groups of people gathered and staring at their cell phones.

What does the ideal living space look like? If you ask five different people, you’ll receive five different answers. Today’s market is made up of renters spanning four generations, each with different priorities and preferences. While there is always a general overlap in desires and needs, it’s just not possible to please everyone. Knowing your target demographic is crucial when planning your amenity marketing strategy. Get to know each generation and what they find most important to not only enhance your property, but simplify your tenants’ lives and effectively meet their needs.

Simplicity Boom

As one of the most economically influential generations, Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) have slowly become the ones to watch in the rental market. With their kids grown and life moving at a slower pace, this generation’s priorities are shifting toward travel and a full social life, and away from the upkeep and costs of home ownership. According to HappyCo, the Baby Boomers’ greatest desire is to escape home maintenance. By emphasizing your property maintenance as a key amenity, you’ll provide a sense of relief to this demographic. Downsizing and moving into a multifamily property can also come with new needs. This renter segment will likely be interested in larger, more open units with plenty of storage to accommodate such a move and avoid parting with personal belongings. As they head into retirement and start to simplify their lives, Baby Boomers will look for somewhere to live long-term that provides walkability for a convenient and enjoyable lifestyle.

The Forgotten Renter

Known for being sandwiched between two of the largest generations, Gen X (born between 1965-1980) is often referred to as the forgotten generation. Gen X is challenging to reach in terms of marketing your rentals, as they are still in the home ownership phase of life. This generation was hit the hardest by the housing crisis in 2008 and many were left with no savings and bad credit, making it difficult for them to trust the economy. However, in recent years, they have been able to bounce back financially. Conversely to the preceding generation, some Gen Xer’s are actually upsizing to accommodate their millennial children or aging parents. A single-family rental would likely draw the most interest from this generation as they would need as much space as possible to fit their current lifestyle.

Seeking Convenience

Coming in as the largest generation in America, Millennials (born between 1981-1996) are generally the biggest focus for many rental communities. As mentioned in The Atlantic, this generation is “less well off than members of earlier generations when they were young, with lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth.” As a result, Millennials are all about affordability and convenience . An ideal location, whether urban or suburban, will provide good transportation, easy access to grocery stores, and plenty of local hangouts. Emphasize the neighborhood in your marketing efforts; doing so can give these renters a real idea of what life is like at your property. Communication is also a strong selling point for Millennials. Pain-free and responsive communication options like email or text are preferred by this portion of the population, according to ApartmentList. Being the largest generation in America also comes the highest percentage of pet owners. Forbes reported that 35% of pet owners fall in the Millennial generation. While allowing pets is a considerable feat to take on, it could provide a revenue boost and competitive advantage for your property.

Digitally Driven Environmentalists

For the latest generation, Gen Z (born after 1997), the multifamily industry will need to look past the basics to appeal to these young, digitally fueled renters. Gen Z expects technology to be integrated into every aspect of their lives, whether it’s communication or smart-home tech. Connecting with these new renters through social media will be the most effective way to reach this audience. Social media can also provide insight into what really matters to these prospects. Gen Z may prove to be a pivotal generation, as they look to change the world, both socially and environmentally. Focusing on sustainability through smart-home tech—like climate control or introducing recycling and other environmental initiatives—will surely grab Gen Z’s attention, according to Multifamily Executive. Never having experienced life before the internet, this generation has also become quite community based. Providing communal spaces for events like game night, happy hour, or morning workout classes is not just a great amenity for your property but also a great retention tool. Read more about Gen Z in our previous blog—Gen Z Influences: Moving the Next Generation In.

While trends vary across the generations, one facet remains consistent: staying home. It’s undoubtedly been the biggest trend of 2020. Living spaces have turned into schools and offices and taking a walk is the new “going out.” Redefine what “home” means and optimize your units and properties to better meet the needs of your multigenerational residents.

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