Segmenting the Rental Market, Part 1: Age-based Marketing
We’re exploring the difference between how old someone is and which generation they were born into.
There’s a lot of material on the Internet about how to market to ‘Millennials.’ We’ve even written some of it ourselves! After seeing a killer video by serial preconception-destroyer Adam Conover, we’ve started to reconsider what exactly all of this advice is for in the first place. We’ve come to a conclusion: people need to be more careful about associating trends with generations (i.e. Millennials vs. Gen-X vs Baby Boomers). A lot of what we think of as “Millennial traits” are in fact “traits of being young.” We can also say, “traits of getting married/having children/buying a home/etc.” So we devoted a few articles to the difference between “being young/middle/old-aged” and “being Millennial/GenX/Boomers”. Let’s start with age.
Young people (defined in the rental world as roughly 18-35)
They have several well-defined predictable traits that relate to the rental market.
- First, young people are less secure financially and in terms of employment.
- Second, they are more destructive to the homes they rent. Presumably because they haven’t learned things. One example is how to move a desk through a hallway without scratching the walls.
- Third, young ones are impulsive. This means they’re more likely to spend their money elsewhere and come up short on bills.
Marketing to young people means presenting yourself as adaptable and willing to cut a little slack. Present your homes as tough and low-cost.
Middle-aged people (36-65)
• They are focused on the neighborhood around the house as much as the house itself.
• These people are aware of the value of a high-quality product. They will pay for a home that is well-constructed regardless of the property size and location.
• Middle-aged people are suspicious of blatant marketing. Presumably, people scammed them more than once in their lives.
Within the rental market, selling to middle-aged people means presenting yourself as straightforward and dependable, and your homes as well-built and located in good areas.
Older people (65+)
• They prioritize comfort and usability. Older people stay longer at home than other age groups.
• On a fixed income, which tends to be fairly low on disposable income, making them focus on how much value they can get for their specific rental budget.
• Focused on loyalty as a central theme in their lives.
Marketing to older people means presenting yourself as the kind of person that will be loyal to them (and worth being loyal to!), and presenting your property as easy-to-use and high value-per-dollar.
The Fair Housing Act keeps you from deliberately targeting a specific age group with a given advertisement. Focus your message around a group of values common to a given age group. You will be more likely to attract that age group as customers. That’s how you segment the rental market to your advantage.