Spa Theme Makes Lasting Impression

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North Florida Builders Inc. wanted a unique merchandising theme that would make its Talleyrand model memorable and increase word-of-mouth traffic. A calming spa theme seemed like the perfect solution, says Linda Mathis, MIRM, vice president of North Fl...

March 01, 2004

 

The "spa" color of this bathroom and bedroom in Newport Harbor's model home demonstrates how color can create a calming atmosphere.

The 33 home sites in the community of Newport Harbor sit tucked away on a nature preserve in north Jacksonville, Fla. Twenty-two of them back to water navigable to the St. Johns River. The marketing challenge: how to draw traffic to such a secluded community. North Florida Builders Inc. wanted a unique merchandising theme that would make its Talleyrand model memorable and increase word-of-mouth traffic.

Marketers began by analyzing the most significant common trait among target buyers — a stress-filled lifestyle juggling parenting and careers. A calming spa theme seemed like the perfect solution, says Linda Mathis, MIRM, vice president of North Florida Builders. She hired local retailer Donna Kuldau of Norwalk - The Furniture Idea because of her knowledge of what north Florida buyers want in home interiors.

Kuldau merchandised the 2,825-square-foot model starting with a paint color called "spa," a muted bluish gray, on the walls. She chose furnishings with a Zen-like quality and clean lines suggesting a yoga studio. "We wanted to create a feeling of 'home' as the place to de-stress," Mathis explains.

New-age music plays throughout the model, waterfalls trickle on salespeople's desks, and aromatherapy candles guide the way. "We wanted to engage all of the senses," Mathis says. "Our goal was not only to have buyers relate to it, but to make a lasting impression."

The model debuted in December 2003, when Newport Harbor attracted 50% more traffic than any of the builder's three other modeled communities. By mid-February, the builder had three Newport Harbor homes sold, with four more sales "in the works," Mathis says.

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