Can buyers’ endorsements work in the Indian real estate market?

When it comes to the marketing of a real estate project, how effective are endorsements from actual end-users residing in the project? We examine

While word-of-mouth publicity is something that developers across the country have adopted, to improve sales and their brand image, their marketing and sales campaigns remain heavily dependent on celebrity endorsements. This raises a fundamental question: If satisfied buyers are the best vehicles for word-of-mouth publicity, then, why can’t they be used as brand ambassadors of the project? While a community connect with buyers, can boost the real estate company’s image, some analysts maintain that it may not work at a time when there are a large number of dissatisfied buyers. Others believe that having a customer as a brand ambassador makes sense, as long as the brand value of the customer is kept in mind and expectations are calibrated accordingly.


Buyers as brand ambassadors: Desirable, yet challenging, in Indian real estate

  • The Nahar Group experimented with buyers as brand ambassadors, in its township project in Mumbai.
  • SARE Homes uses buyers as brand ambassadors across its township projects in different cities.
  • Sobha Limited reached out to buyers, as part of its connect programme, to get their feedback and testimonials.
  • Developers privately admit that it is challenging to have buyers as brand ambassadors, in the wake of consumer activism.


Celebrity endorsements versus endorsements from residents

Manju Yagnik, vice-chairperson of the Nahar Group, explains that the campaign for their project Nahar Amrit Shakti, was based on the concept of ‘real life brand ambassadors’. “The concept involves the project being endorsed by residents who have been staying in the township, as opposed to routine real estate advertisements that feature a celebrity who is probably unaware about the real experience of the project. We believe that residents who have been staying in this township for long, are the perfect celebrities to endorse it, as they can most suitably describe the benefits of staying in it,” says Yagnik.

See also: Brand integrity: The road to financial success

Nikhil Hawelia, managing director of the Hawelia Group, feels that celebrity endorsements are ideal for high-end projects. However, celebrity endorsements, more often than not, lack the emotional and social connect. Hence, it is time to look for novel endorsement methods and buyers as brand ambassadors, can be one of the effective ways of doing it, he adds. “As developers, we need to differentiate between buyer endorsements and buyers as ambassadors. These are two different things. The latter would be a catalyst to not only word-of-mouth publicity at the micro-level, but also give a much-needed facelift to the sector at the macro level. Of course, it is a luxury to have a buyer as a brand ambassador in today’s time,” says Hawelia.


Brand building: What can real estate learn from the FMCG sector

Brand analysts maintain that innovative real estate advertisements, not only break the clutter, but also help in attracting the attention of customers. In this context, advertisements of projects from real people, can have its own impact. This does not mean that the traditional forms of advertisements are a failure. They too, have their own impact on the masses. However, in terms of innovation, the real estate sector can probably learn from the fiercely competitive fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, where end-users are showcased as promoting the product. As the customers stay in the project, use the amenities and have a complete experience of what is said and committed by the developer, this experience can be explored, to create a developer’s brand image.


How buyers can effectively boost the appeal value of a builder

  • A buyer as a brand ambassador, should be positioned in a way that aligns with the values of the developer being endorsed.
  • Mere testimonials may not help to leverage a buyer as a brand ambassador.
  • Only satisfied buyers tend to push word-of-mouth publicity and serve as ambassadors of the brand.
  • Since advertisements involve high investments, only a handful of developers risk having common home buyers as brand ambassadors.
  • A buyer as a brand ambassador, may have more connect than a celebrity with no emotional or social connect with the home buyer.

(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)


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