A bold Gen-Y marketing strategy is being used by developer Crescent Resources at a student housing project in Austin, Texas being managed by Greystar Student Living. The Charlotte-based Crescent has combined aggressive branding with eco-friendly living to try to attract trendy students to its Circle West Campus. And it looks like it worked.
"It was clear that the market was extremely competitive and we had to promote our brand by using an emotional connection to create a strong memory point with our target demographic," said Jonathan Denton, senior regional manager for Greystar.
Bold, edgy, and confident are among the adjectives the company cites as the foundation for the “Live in the Circle” marketing campaign at West Campus community near the University of Texas at Austin. The 167-unit community has 476 beds and is already 92 percent pre-leased—even though renters were not able physically tour an actual unit as the property underwent its final stages of construction.
This meant that Crescent had to carefully showcase its Circle brand using only marketing materials in its redesigned leasing office. In order to engage the students and appeal to their desire for a sense of belonging to a community, Crescent plastered its leasing office windows with mock movie posters that mimicked actual movie posters, reading “Now Leasing” as the title.
"We had to provide the students with visual representations of the amenity areas and units and also create the experience of community in the temporary leasing office," said Cristina Carrion, community manager at Circle West Campus. "We show off our style on Pinterest, tweet contests, notifications, events, shout outs, and more on Twitter. And we provide an updated calendar of events and stay in touch with the students on the Curcle blog," she added.
The marketing collateral chosen for Circle West Campus consists of a mix of materials and media, and all center around a playful eco-friendly theme. The “coming soon” movie poster parody series function to draw on established cultural inferences and tap into the baseline of familiarity to introduce an entirely new message.
And the company coaxed student’s desire for community by asking them to “Live in the Circle.” The Circle West’s website features Facebook plug-ins on every page and its Pinterest and Twitter presence are active as well in a move to reach the young demographic.
The strategy included appealing to the Gen-Y’s obsession with technology by giving virtual tours of floor plans via iPads and tempting their wild sides by creating coasters and beer koozies to handout and leave in nearby bars. Even with no apartments to show, Crescent has proven that clever, aggressive marketing can go a long way in attracting the Gen-Y renter.
"The funny thing about student housing is, at every property, each university market is different every year. You constantly have to adapt and look at things from a fresh perspective."
Check out a gallery of Circle West marketing materials here.