The Power of Model Home Merchandising
Why should you invest in model home merchandising? To answer this question, I should first explain the terminology. Model home merchandising is interior design that targets specific consumer niches based on thorough marketing research. Merchandising is an entire process, including reviewing a builder’s product to improve function and target market appeal, monitoring the construction process, selecting finishes, providing all interior furnishings, built-in treatments and accessories, and teaching sales associates to demonstrate features and benefits of the model home. Every aspect of this process helps “package” your product to sell, and we all know the importance of packaging in the retail world. So…why should you merchandise your models?
Refining Your Product – From the preliminary stages, the interior merchandiser is available to critique plans (red-lining) and spotlight any potential problems. Sight lines are reviewed to ensure positive first impressions upon entry and throughout the home. Room layouts and specifications are analyzed for maximum function and “furnishability”. Unfortunately, even door and window placements can negatively affect a home – impeding traffic flow and ideal furniture arrangements. Therefore, plan critiques are crucial to developing the best possible (and most livable) home plan.
Creating Perceived Value – Properly selected interior finishes can greatly increase buyers’ perceptions of the quality and value inherit in your homes. A design package that is appropriate for the financial status that a buyer can obtain also increases a home’s perceived value. One facet of a merchandiser’s job is to inform the builder and his team of the latest in interior finishes, appliances, plumbing fixtures, etc. It is extremely important to understand buyers’ expectations, including what they see on television and read about in magazines. Meeting these expectations will add considerable value to your product in the eyes of your buyers.
Demonstrating Function – The average homebuyer cannot imagine how each space in a home should (or could) be used. Merchandised models enable buyers to visualize their own furniture and furnishings in a home. The merchandiser “paints a picture” of life within that home, proving function and offering innovative new ideas that may not have been considered. For example, based on the target market, a secondary bedroom can demonstrate numerous lifestyle activities: an at-home office, a sewing room, an exercise and/or massage room, a guest room, an in-law suite, or a children’s space. Furniture scale and placement also showcases livability and flexibility. Bottom line – an empty home leaves everything up to the imagination of the buyer, and that can be very risky.
Stimulating Emotions – Walking through an empty home is devoid of emotional excitement and attachment. For buyers, much of the personality and appeal in a home results from a combination of color, furniture, art, and accessories. This merchandising creates a lifestyle that potential buyers can identify with and become excited over. In essence, the model home shows them a better life. This is why homes are generally merchandised 5 years ahead of where the target market currently is in life. If you show buyers only what they already have, you give them no reason to purchase your product. However, showing them more than they already have (but not too much more), creates discontentment and a desire to move up. These emotions sell your homes.
Creating Memorability – Market research has proven in many geographical areas that the average homebuyer looks at approximately 13 different model centers before he/she makes a decision to buy a new home. At the end of a long day, what will make them remember your model? The answer is great merchandising that memorably highlights the features and lifestyle your product has to offer. Through the skilled use of color, furnishings, themes, options and upgrades, models can create strong, lasting impressions in the minds of potential buyers.
As many builders already know, model home merchandising is truly an investment that is well worth the expense. Recently, one of my clients told me that the model we merchandised for him was much more profitable than he had ever expected. Not only did homes in his community sell faster, but he actually made a profit on the model itself when he sold all the furnishings (after the model was no longer needed, of course). Talk about a win-win situation!