Broadening Your Unit Mix to Engage a Larger Audience

One of the best ways to attract your prospect’s attention in ever more competitive markets is to diversify your offerings, says Bigeye's Justin Ramb. 
Justin Ramb

For the past decade or more, there has been steady growth in the demand for multifamily, student housing, co-living and seniors housing properties.

There are many drivers for this growth, including the trend of younger consumers pushing back on the idea that home ownership is something everyone should aspire to and choosing to rent instead. Retired and aging adults are also increasingly ready to move out of their single-family homes to enjoy the social benefits and convenient advantages of community living. 

Developers have, of course, responded enthusiastically to this demand. Now, however, many housing markets are approaching or have reached saturation. For developers in these areas, it’s more important than ever for their properties to find unique ways to attract the attention of consumers who have more housing options than they have time to explore them. One of the best ways to do that is to offer a wide range of unit types in their communities. 

Why Diversification Works

Why does implementing a broader and more strategically selected unit blend at a property give it a competitive advantage? The biggest reason is simply that it gets more eyes on the offering and starts more conversations about it.

What we’ve found in our work with leading developers is that the benefit of having a broader unit mix is twofold. First, the property can be marketed to a wider initial target audience. That alone is beneficial. But then there’s also an enhanced opportunity for referrals, since someone who’s interested in high-end housing isn’t limited to talking about the property with others who share their preference. They can recommend it to friends, family and acquaintances who are seeking options at other price points as well.

Different Approaches to Diversification

For the growing number of developers who are designing properties with a focus on unit diversity, there are different strategies that can be used. Some go with a three-tier approach, constructing buildings that offer:

  • Smaller units with more basic amenities in less-appealing parts of the property at a more budget-friendly rate;
  • Larger units with upgrades and better locations at a middle rate;
  • Suites with the most square footage, the best views and premium upgrades at the high-end rate. 

Another strategy is to combine market-rate units with government-designated affordable housing. Not only are there possible tax breaks and other financial incentives with this unconventional approach, it minimizes the impact on, and displacement of, long-time residents in rapidly evolving neighborhoods. Plus, it creates the opportunity for people from different walks of life to find literal common ground.

Finally, some developers incorporate micro-units and/or co-living units into their communities. These units are becoming increasingly attractive and offer a great introduction to the community’s brand. This benefits a variety of prospects—young professionals looking for their first apartment, short-term contractors and mobile workforces like pilots and flight attendants. Then, if the person’s situation changes and they’re ready to switch to more traditional housing, the developer has laid the foundation for them to stay with the community thanks to that initial exposure.

The Importance of Diversifying Your Marketing Strategy

Not only is it important for developers to diversify their offerings, it’s also crucial that they craft diverse marketing and campaign strategies to promote them. Tactics used by developers and their internal marketing teams or third-party providers in the past, which revolved around very generalized messaging, aren’t effective in today’s hyper-competitive rental markets.

We live in a time when renters have more choices than ever before. Saying, “We have something for everyone,” doesn’t entice people today. You’ve got to say, “We’ve got something for you.” It’s a lot more work to develop, implement and manage multiple campaigns for one property, but it pays off in greater engagement, increased interest, and faster lease-up rates. And we’ve found that to be true across the spectrum, from multifamily and seniors housing, to co-living and student housing.

Of course, beyond unit mix, developers have to keep other considerations in mind so that once they attract the attention of potential residents, they’re able to convert them to signing a lease. For example, the increasing preference for locally-sourced and reclaimed materials is important, as is the need to ensure that interior designs have a timelessness that can continually appeal to renters who tend to move from one residence to another more frequently. 

Ultimately, a developer that has a deep understanding of consumer behavior, leverages that knowledge to create the ideal unit mix and works with an experienced agency partner to properly position the different offerings within a community can find success even in the most saturated markets.


Founder & President of Bigeye, Justin Ramb has more than 20 years of industry and digital marketing experience. Ramb established Bigeye in 2002, and in the years since, the agency has evolved and thrived, continuing to drive Bigeye to the forefront in advertising throughout the southeast.