Getting mixed-use megadevelopments planned, built and marketed demands sophisticated multidisciplinary strategies and an equally sophisticated team of design, building and marketing pros. The obstacles are Herculean, but the paybacks can be equally enormous.
That’s because megadevelopments — outsized, mixed-use ventures that blend a wide range of property types into big, dazzling, enticing destinations — represent the future of real estate development. They offer a greater economic hedge in today’s uncertain market by embracing different property types. This protects them during recessionary times, when one real estate sector may be hit harder than another, and can ensure a more stable return on investment.
They also bring new life to moribund areas by optimizing large tracts of land assembled from underused, vacant or abandoned sites, which are likely located in a city center or its outskirts, or even in nearby suburbs or farther exurbs. In all cases, their raison d’être is to create economic value where there had been little or none by attracting multiple cohorts to live, work, shop and play at its various properties, amenities and attractions.
Given their size and scope — from the new infrastructure and varied types of structures they require to the huge range of products and services they include, both real estate and not — megadevelopments are extremely complicated to construct and market. They require precise, analytics-driven strategies that build awareness, generate excitement and draw inquiries long before these projects break ground.
Marketing Megadevelopments Must Start With Strong Partnerships
Megadevelopments require the development and marketing teams to work together in order to plan and execute how the project is envisioned long before it breaks ground. The marketing piece starts with psychographic and demographic analytics and requires a keen understanding of the current market and everyone’s needs, from the developer and investors’ goals to potential buyers’ expectations. Extensive data and competitive analysis come before the design phase begins.
Vetting the plans and developing branding, phasing and sales strategies are equally challenging, and again, focus and teamwork are key. What’s also key before breaking ground is to determine where all the buildings will fit on the mega-site, each structure’s unit mix and the units’ sizes, design and finishes, as well as overall branding and more. All this requires cooperation among all the parties that are focused on the finished shared goal.
Challenges can be insurmountable without the right plan because developers have to pre-sell enough units to break ground in condos, which has a huge impact on phasing since residents may move in long before retail, office and services are on the premises. Yet, from the developer’s perspective, they need to bring in revenue faster in order to go on to other components of the megadevelopment build-out. All of these factors play a role in phasing decisions.
How To Tackle Challenges And Forge A Successful Marketing Paradigm
From our experience as a full-service development marketing firm, here are three key elements that must be in place to successfully market megadevelopments.
1. Gather the right data — more is more: Research is critically important. With multiple audiences to consider, detailed demographics and psychographics are required to break out target audiences. For example, at one mixed-use megadevelopment in our portfolio, each of eight residential towers will have a different demographic target. It’s imperative to use data — both historical and real-time — to determine where each tower belongs and to compensate for shifting market fundamentals that change demographic targets, product mix, design needs and more.
2. Develop a compelling brand and identity: Megadevelopments need stories. Consider the complexity of targeting multiple audiences. The area and its market will affect choices, particularly as real estate goes more local. And never assume the consumer “gets it.” We take for granted that consumers know what we’re talking about. They don’t. Communications must be thorough yet clear, shared in their language rather than industry jargon.
3. Have a dedicated, rigorously trained sales team: Dedicated sales teams work just for you, so they won’t be offering potential buyers alternatives and instead will only concentrate on your products. They know your target buyers and your competitors. They also know how to work patiently with consumers of various ages and budgets, both online and in person, which requires different skill sets and is key in megadevelopments, since they appeal to a broad audience. And most significantly, they know how to build momentum and excitement during the sales process to convert lookers into buyers.
But when dealing with megadevelopments, the marketing team’s job is proportionate to the project — or more simply put, equally outsized. They must reevaluate and refresh their sales tactics and messaging regularly, even when all seems complete and the project hums smoothly. A megadevelopment is a living entity that needs to reflect changing market fundamentals, including changing consumer tastes and broad and local economic trends. Otherwise, the next new megadevelopment might replace it as the best place to live, work and play.