Home Tech Merchandising & Luxury Custom Homes

Beating the drum just one more time (for now!) on home tech merchandising—this time focusing on the luxury custom market.

The concept of merchandising for Luxury Home selling isn’t terribly intuitive, because most custom builders’ value proposition is “whatever you want or dream–we can deliver”. On its face, that’s the antithesis of merchandising, where tech assortments are pre-selected and pre-packaged based on assumptions about buying demographics.

But the reality is even the most custom of luxury builders have a comfort zone of features they design and build, and a base set of features they start the conversation with. That’s the equivalent of standard features in the production and semi-custom homebuilding realm. In the end, when consulting with the homebuyer on options, is the world really their oyster? Is every conceivable option in every category of home products on the table for serious consideration? Again, here the reality is there’s a comfort zone of products and packages that custom builders suggest and present to buyers to protect against buying fatigue and to get decisions made.

So even the most custom of builders has work to do developing a strategic intent for tech. Acceptable builder profit margin and buyer satisfaction will likely top the list, but tech features that accrue to a specific custom builder brand promise will be important.

For example:

  • If a custom builder’s calling card is green building, many tech features that conserve energy and water will be part of the assumed home standard, and some features that take energy conservation to wow levels, like Net Zero, can be regularly suggested and presented as options and upgrades.
  • Lighting and motorized shade controls that provide particular convenience and coolness in larger homes are sure to land on standard or almost-always-presented options lists.
  • Wow factor AV like architectural audio, multiroom, big screens and maybe even dedicated home theaters or high-performance AV zones and the controls that make high performance one-button convenient really should be almost-always presented.

The point is all of the planning processes we lay out in our Merchandising and Marketing Guide are useful and important to luxury custom builders.

The Guide includes topics and tools for:

  • Meeting on an interdisciplinary basis to set strategic intent,
  • Bringing key tech vendors like tech integrators and electrical and mechanical contractors in to ideate around standard tech features and a short list of packaged feature that will have broad appeal in options selection,
  • Using the TecHome product taxonomy to think through the options comprehensively and not miss opportunities,
  • Using other merchandising perspectives like Room-by-Room
  • 7 Central Benefits or Lifestyle Personas to think through packages with common appeal.
  • Extracting sales discovery questions that map with these merchandising perspectives and help you ID buyers’ tech wants and needs.

This kind of planning and thinking isn’t just for the big builders, it’s for any builder that wants to expand their comfort zone on tech and get better at delivering their homebuyers the tech-forward living experience they want.

On our recent webcast on Home Tech Merchandising, our good friend Joe Lautner, walked us through strategy on a luxury 20-unit development he had worked on in the suburbs of Boston. The builder and integrator sat down and thought through the buying demographic which was older and typically had second homes outside of dreary-winter New England, so remote access and connectivity features became standard offers. They considered the stunning ocean-side setting, so shade controls on huge windows became standard. So clearly even in this 20-unit project, there was good use of upfront tech merchandise and marketing planning.

Now, you might call this all tech cheerleading.

I just call it the truth!

‘Til next time…

John