It was back in 1991 that Faith Popcorn wrote her “Popcorn Report,” a book that explained her theory of “cocooning,” a desire to surround ourselves with the amenities of home, which would not be a fad; it would be a trend. When a trend remains for more than 25 years, it is safe to say it is no longer a trend. It is the new reality.
A recent New York Post report showed Americans continue to pour money into our homes. Home Depot, for example, according to the report, saw same store sales increase 5 percent each of the last three years, and the home appliance area accounted for nearly 8 percent of their revenue, up almost a full percentage point in just two years.
I was fortunate during my years heading public relations at Coldwell Banker Real Estate and today at Imagine Productions to have a front row seat watching how our homes are changing. I worked closely with tech trade association CEDIA and developed relationships with smart home powers like CNET, August, Nest, Alexa, Lutron, Almond and others.
We are seeing their work and technology converge on our homes at a rate like never before. Consider that the household refrigerator debuted in 1914, but it took 30 more years for the overwhelming majority of American households to have one. Dishwashers debuted in the 1920s, but rose to prominence in the 1970s.
More modern day advancements came every few years, and the adoption, quicker. Cable TV remotes, the microwave oven, cordless phones and the answering machine changed our home life.
But even the pace of the 1980s and ’90s pales in comparison to 2017, when seemingly every day a new product hits with transformative capability.
Society is also adjusting to a seemingly new view of the value of home. Before the surge in home prices in the early 2000s, most Americans saw their homes as a castle, not as a piggy bank. The incredible run-up to the Great Recession had homeowners scurrying for a daily look at household appreciation. Those “go-go” years quickly went south and Americans learned new words like “foreclosure” and “short sales.” All told, we spent about 10 years singularly focused on the financial impact of homeownership.
We now appear headed to a healthier mix of looking at our homes through the financial and lifestyle lens, continuing to “cocoon” with our open floor plans, warm paint colors, elaborate sound and lighting systems, hundreds of channels, Netflix, home theaters and, of course, smart home technology.
Our industry has always strived to provide value beyond the transaction, and the changes in our homes are giving us a golden opportunity. We can provide training programs delivered by ancillary industries and allow our agents to become walking, talking home experts, up to date on the latest trends and advancements in design, technology and other amenities.
The training would be one step in the puzzle.
The advent of content marketing provides us another opportunity to utilize an “everything home” philosophy to engage consumers. The time is now for real estate brokerages to augment their offerings and become content machines, providing agents with daily and powerful content they can excitedly share.
By working closely with experts outside of the daily grind of real estate, we can learn a lot and share a lot. All of a sudden, the task of staying connected to clients for years after the transaction does not seem so daunting. The content machine brokerage and its agents will continuously engage thousands in the community. We will create brand, company and agent loyalty long before, and after, closing.
It is not just the real estate industry that is undergoing change. Our homes are changing, too. Let’s use that to our advantage.
David Siroty founded Imagine Productions, an integrated communication and content marketing consultancy, in December after leading Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s public relations group for nearly 13 years. Siroty can be reached at david@imaginePRstragegy.com.
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