by Michael Slovin
It’s a critical question that is top of mind for virtually all businesses these days—how to attract millennial customers. Younger consumers have shifting purchasing preferences that set them apart from older generations. Those preferences affect everything from where millennials choose to live to how they consume technology services. As the largest generation since the Boomers, and one with growing purchasing power, the time has come to cater services to millennials.
Millennials are marked by many trends—technology first and foremost. The rise of social media, the changing nature of the way content is consumed and mobility are all key features of this demographic. Recent advances in technology have created new business models that suit current tastes, with prominent examples that include subscription-based and on-demand services. These models have forced incumbent companies to reassess how they offer services and have created a massive opportunity for new businesses to capitalize on a major market opportunity.
Technology’s effect on the real estate market
In the real estate industry, these changing trends have manifested themselves in delayed home-buying and an increase of millennial movement from suburbs to cities. This has caused rising rent prices in destination cities with vibrant job markets, new construction, and increased competition between property managers for new residents. As a result, more and more property managers are beginning to invest in a number of new amenities to keep current residents happy while also staying attractive to new renters.
A recent report from the National Multifamily Housing Council asked 120,000 renters about their preference for 70 different amenities. A staggering 94 percent were interested in high-speed Internet access. And that should not come as a surprise. Streaming video, tablets, smartphones and even telecommuting are all placing a burden on bandwidth at home, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many residents and property managers are also interested in so-called smart home technologies—which encompass everything from thermostats to refrigerators—all on the same network, competing for bandwidth.
For property managers, investments in technology have often focused on online marketing tools and payment portals—attracting and retaining residents through small conveniences. But increasingly, residents will require that these property owners also invest in upgrading critical infrastructure—high-speed Internet, providing faster WiFi networks and more. This infrastructure is necessary to support other investments, including smart home technologies, while at the same time, serves as a marketing tool for tech-savvy renters.
Attracting millennial renters
Staying on top of technology—both in terms of how millennials find you and the services you provide—is critical to attracting new residents. Here are three ways investing in your network infrastructure can help bring in new residents:
Millennials consume a massive amount of content through the Internet. Streaming TV and music are here to stay, but slow speeds or spotty service that residents may experience is a major drawback. Investing in infrastructure that can scale up to gigabit speeds will keep your property ahead of that problem.
Millennials expect amenities like WiFi virtually everywhere they go—it’s why so many cafes, restaurants and bars advertise that they have free WiFi. Adding that service to common areas comes at little cost, but conveys a message that you understand what’s important.
Above all else, millennials love customization and options. By building new infrastructure with the help of a service provider, you not only give them an option they may not have at other properties, but you can also pass along all the benefits provided to you by your network partner.
Property managers who invest in their network infrastructure are not only proactively planning for next-generation technologies that they will need to support, but are also developing a competitive differentiator that sets them apart. In the case of millennial renters, future-proofing technology is the key to future-proofing your business.
Michael Slovin is the vice president of Xfinity Communities, Comcast’s business unit focused on bringing XFINITY services to the multifamily industry. In this role, he is responsible for national sales, sales operations and developing programs that improve the community and resident experience.