By: Daniel Korenevsky
A new digital campaign for Builder Homesite (an organization of homebuilders) draws users to a website – aptly named Start Fresh – that touts the benefits of buying a new home (vs. buying a “new” home that’s actually used). The site, with a block design reminiscent of windows 8, presents a pretty compelling argument. Some benefits such as energy efficiency, long term warranty, and customization, appeal to all, while others are more directly targeted: “newly built homes offer 3x the closet space,” and “newly built homes offer twice the bathroom space,” emphasize the respective genders’ domains.
Tim Costello, Chairman and CEO of Builder Homesite, describes this as their first attempt at the “Got Milk?” side of things, i.e., a campaign aimed to reinvigorate the market for an entire industry rather than just one single brand. New homes, which typically account for 15-20% of all home purchases, dropped to 5% during the financial crisis.
The Fresh Start site has been very successful since its launch on March 22nd, with over 10,000 hits a day. In addition providing many a reason to shop for new homes, the site also allows users to start shopping with a search box that redirects to NewHomeSource.com. This campaign by GSD&M out of Austin, TX utilizes banner ads, SEO, a sweepstakes, and a strong presence on social media, in addition to the website.
I took a look at NewHomeSource, as well as a few other sites that allow you to search for new homes, and to my dismay I was unimpressed. The user interface and overall design are comparable (though definitely a step down from the Fresh Start page), but the biggest fault came in the actual results. I searched for Niles, IL (my hometown), Chicago, and only when I searched Champaign did I find results in the actual town I had asked for. Builder Homesite is comprised of 32 builders with over 35 brands, and, sure, this is a lot of homes, but compared to [what I imagine is] 100s of builders’ homes that show up on HomeFinder.com or other sites, it is not enough.
The “Got Milk?” campaign was originally created for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993, but was soon licensed for use by other milk processors and dairy farmers. Builder Homesite should take note and follow suite.
Additionally, while I think their target market of 30-54 year olds with $80,000+ salaries is a good start, I would suggest they look towards the Millennials. Not only are we a smart, savvy bunch that are bound to be earning way more than 80k by the time we are 30, but we are also the generation of everything new and custom to our liking… a generation who understands energy conservation and many of the other benefits of new homes… a generation that is ready for new awesome homes and probably has very little actual knowledge about new home building/owning, so why not start early?