There has been a lot of press about Gen Y and the media has declared this group of young people the darlings of the future. With one pronouncement after another, this cluster has been seen as the coming savior of everything from retail boutiques, to shopping online to apartment rents. Up until now, most of the judgment coming out of the business press has been based on anecdotal evidence and observations of a lot of, well in my opinion less than stellar observers. When you consider that each observation and publication has as its base an economic incentive to be right, you do not see the other side of the argument, which is a set of scientific data, rigorously tested and carefully defined. Several long observed facets of shopping for an apartment have been borne out over time. Women do either make up a preponderance of renters in many properties and or have some very direct influence. Ask any guy standing at the bus stop and he will tell you that his wife or significant other made the decision in the selection of the unit and also has their car today, which is why he’s standing in the rain waiting for the bus. Access to public transportation and neighborhood services takes on a different meaning once you’re the one that needs it. After sampling a few neighborhood restaurants and shops, you pretty much figure out that train station across the street might become your new best friend.
In evaluating women as prospective renters, it is helpful to review research done that helps to validate their use of networks and online data for personal and professional growth. While not all women follow the same patterns, often many share, to varying degrees certain perceptions about themselves and others. Women want to be enabled by information, to develop a sense of self, both for sharing and improvement, to take better care of themselves and by extension others. Women value knowledge as power differently than men, in that they often make more rational and thoughtful decisions. Those property sites that offer the right combination of factual as well as perceptual information find they increase visits to their properties and manage to have longer rent tenure among professional women and small families. Hard sell validation doesn’t work very well because of the lack of history and sincerity and pioneering, to solely rely on one source is an utter failure when trying to influence how women make decisions.
It’s one thing to generalize about Gen Y and how it’s going to or even has changed the world. It’s another to recognize that as a female centric society, and we’re heading into that rapidly, the balance of influence and need is fast changing. A little more integrity and sensitivity in apartment leasing is going to go a long way towards setting future standards. Women, it seems have once again found a way to make the world a better place.
Jack Kern is the research editor of Commercial Property Executive and Multihousing News. He has an active interest in neuropsychology and consequently spends way too much time alone. You might want to avoid him at cocktail parties. If you are interested in learning more about what women think, ask your sister or better yet, write to Jack at [email protected].