The multifamily housing industry has a new driving demographic, and surprisingly, it’s not Millennials or Generation Z. In fact, the new kids on the block are not kids at all. Baby Boomers, the label identifying those currently aged 54 to 74, are one of the industry’s newest darlings. This demographic that is currently 76 million-strong is so impactful that its newest wave of renters has even been dubbed the Silver Tsunami, a term that refers to this group’s overwhelming numbers as well as their strong impact on several industries including healthcare and, of course, multifamily housing.
Despite the silly moniker, Baby Boomers are set to make a real impact on the industry. According to a Forbes study examining renter trends from 2009 to 2015, Boomers composed the largest growing tenant profile at 28 percent, compared to only a 3 percent increase for renters under 34 years of age. This equates to almost 2.5 million senior households joining the ranks of younger renters. By 2020, over 5 million seniors are expected to rent their home.
Given that Baby Boomers have established wealth over their younger predecessors, they also possess significant buying power. It’s for this reason that seniors are embracing what’s known as “lifestyle renting” – or renting out of preference, not necessity. Gone are the days when seniors live out the remainder of their active lives in homes that are merely empty nests—too large and expensive to care for now that their children have moved on.
On the contrary, today’s seniors are more active than ever! They realize the convenience that many of today’s apartment communities can provide, both in terms of on-site amenities and proximity to medical centers, restaurants, shopping complexes, and more.
Another bonus associated with older residents? Senior renters are more inclined to stay put once they sign a lease, since statistically speaking, they’re less likely to move for careers, family-building, or other realms of personal development.
So, if you’re interested in attracting residents who rent as a conscious lifestyle choice and pose a minimal turnover risk, read on for effective marketing and leasing strategies to lure the much sought-after Silver Tsunami to your property’s front door.
First, understand what it is your senior renters seek in an apartment home.
One of the fundamental rules in marketing is to first know what it is you’re selling. Sure, you are obviously hoping to rent homes in your senior apartment community, but what is it that sets you apart from others and resonates with your target demographic’s needs? It may surprise you to learn that today’s seniors expect a lot of the same amenities as their children and grandchildren.
Topping their must-have list is convenience, location, and maintenance upkeep – which, in addition to standard measures like waste management and appliance repair, ideally includes plant and pet care while they travel. They also advocate for smart home features, on-site services including mail handling and laundry services, and plush community amenities that cater to their active lifestyles such as a resort-style swimming pool or community clubhouse. Sounds familiar, right? You’ve likely heard this same wish list come from the mouths of your Millennial or Generation-Z residents—that’s why!
Additionally, senior renters are all about neighboring amenities. This demographic is heavily interested in their health and will appreciate any nearby fitness centers, walking trails, or lap pools your neighborhood may offer. If your community can make them feel welcome from the outset in promising the features they’re looking for, you will have a much easier time targeting this in-demand demographic with your marketing efforts.
Secondly, realize that antiquated marketing strategies will not apply.
While your target audience may be older in age, the marketing strategies your team employs to grab their attention should align with modern techniques. With roughly three-quarters of internet users ages 65 and up saying they go online daily, you must embrace digital marketing methods such as optimizing your marketing website and social channels for search, harnessing the power of online reviews, and investing in a solid content marketing strategy.
Even if you think that a mobile-optimized site isn’t necessary to grab seniors’ attention, consider the fact that approximately 70 percent of seniors are now active smartphone users and will likely refer to your mobile brand presence before inquiring about floor plan availability. Online reviews go hand-in-hand with a striking apartment website design, so you’ll want to maintain what’s being said about your brand in an online space – both positive and negative. Finally, you must ensure that the content on your website is easy-to- understand, useful, and relevant to your audience.
And, just like everyone else, senior renters are using web searches to locate information about your property, so in addition to maintaining a firm grip on your website and online reputation, consider investing in Google AdWords or a similar service to bump up your website in search results. This will make it easy for interested Baby Boomers to find you online and explore your offerings at their convenience.
But do not forget to introduce a personal touch to your marketing campaign.
While younger generations are all too used to digitally generated chat bots and automated customer service, the Baby Boomer generation is more inclined to respond positively to a personal touch. As people who can remember a time when humans made every sales call and wrote appropriate correspondence to a preceded letter or email, seniors appreciate – and remember – a personal touch.
But, this probably leaves you wondering how you can merge the digital and personal aspects of your marketing strategy. The good news is that it’s rather simple to add a personal touch to your online marketing efforts.
For example, after examining your online reviews, be sure to construct a personal response to each to the best of your ability. Additionally, it may be helpful to consider the possibility of enlisting a few current residents to function as brand ambassadors for your property. Encourage them to publish online reviews, leave comments on your social channels, and dole out recommendations of your property in an offline setting. Whether you offer them a small incentive such as entry into a social media contest or merely upholding your already stellar customer service, we’re sure they’d be glad to contribute.
Above all, make the leasing process easy for them.
An easy-to-understand sales process is appreciated by most demographics regardless of age, but this rings especially true for older residents. Unlike their children and grandchildren, senior renters will likely get lost in the shuffle if you don’t take the extra time to streamline the leasing process. Remember, these renters did not grow up with smartphones in their back pockets or ubiquitous computer accessibility. Therefore, conducting business using these devices won’t be as intuitive for them.
So, make things easy. Always present concise information about your community and its offerings. Remember that tech jargon may make sense to younger renters, but phrases such as “online payment portal” or “digitized service requests” may leave older residents lost in translation. When all is said and done, just communicate with potential residents without pretense, and you may be surprised at the efficacy of your approach.
Although often looked over in favor of Millennials or Generation Z, the growing senior renter profile is one you should not take for granted if you’re interested in improving your bottom line and reducing vacancy rates. You can easily attract this demographic by optimizing your digital presence, making the sales funnel as easy to navigate as possible, and wrapping it all up with a nice, personal touch. If you place these tried-and-true marketing efforts at the core of your strategy, you’ll not only lure the coveted Silver Tsunami to your property, but you will also catch the eye of younger generations as well.
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