There’s More Than One Way to Market Green Homes

If you’re only selling energy efficiency, then you're not seeng the big picture, and you may even be alienating young buyers

By NAHB Housing Policy Update | March 4, 2015
Young couple aspires to buy a home

Most buyers interested in high-performance homes are motivated less by energy efficiency and more by making the world a better place to live, according to Michelle Desiderio, vice president of innovation services for Home Innovation Research Labs, in Upper Marlboro, Md. Desiderio spoke about strategies for selling high-performance homes—including which audiences to target—during the 2015 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. 

“You want to make sure you’re really speaking to things that motivate them,” she says. “If you’re only selling energy efficiency, then you’re missing the big picture and even alienating young buyers.” 

For Millennials, a message about saving money is a little offensive. “They’ll choose a high-performance builder,” she says, “simply because it’s the right thing to do, not just to save money.” 

Today’s high-performance home buyer is looking for a sustainable lifestyle that is healthier, more efficient, and better for the world at large. Sixty-one percent of builders say that customers will pay more for a home that meets these criteria. There are four groups of buyers inclined to buy high-performance homes:

The Mainstream Consumer. Research shows that 16 percent of consumers are super green and “out to save the Earth,” while 18 percent have completely rejected the idea. The remaining 66 percent of consumers have mostly good intentions, but they worry that they’re being excluded from the green movement. So make it real for them with benefits such as lower operating costs and walkable communities.

Women. Women lean green across all areas of the country and all income levels and ethnicities. In many households, women are the primary breadwinners and decision makers. “They are interested in the health and safety of the family, not so much what they’ll save on energy bills. And they’re willing to pay a little bit more for the things that will make their house healthier and better for the family,” Desiderio says.

Millennials. These buyers are socially responsible, globally oriented, environmentally conscious savers who are renting and living in green apartments right now. Ninety-three percent of them expect to own a home and don’t want their parents’ home. They do want a tech-equipped house that is both good for the environment and their wallets.

Aspirationals. “Granite and green will win over this new group of homebuyers,” Desiderio says. “They are focused on style, social status, and sustainability, and desire construction and design that leads to less consumption in a trendy way.”

The best strategy for selling to these groups is to demonstrate that the high-performance home is both a better product and a better value for the consumer. PB



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