The way potential clients perceived and associated the design of an office building with positive experiences and memories may improve acceptance and influence the purchase decision. Landmark, a real estate project development company in Guatemala, came to our office with two questions in mind: 1) What can we do to make potential buyers purchase office space from our office building project and not from other projects? 2) How can we sell our project without the need for”selling”?
After this meeting, three specific goals were defined:
1) Minimize the risk of stagnating sales that could cause financial overruns.
2) Reduce the sales lead-time to give greater certainty to the projected cash flows.
3) Maximize the use of the cash coming from sales to reduce the financial cost from the bank loan required.
The challenge was clear; to find the consumer insights that could help to increase sales speed and reduce risks and stress on investment.
This approach generated the next question: What is the sensorial communication language (architecture type, shape, and spatial distribution, colors, textures, internal and external public spaces) that the office building design needs to have to be able to evoke the appropriate non-conscious response to be accepted and bought by the target market group?
To answer these questions and resolve the goals defined with the customer, we decided to undertake psychometric research to find two types of nonconscious response:
1) The cerebral predominance of the market segment, which would determine its natural communication language to show us how architectural elements make them feel in/out of their “comfort zone”.
2) Their belief systems governing their attitude to life and the circumstances under which they feel secure enough to take relevant or important decisions, like buying an office.
After determining the target market group and location of the project, we defi ned a sample of 650 men and women between 25 and 65 years, working and living in the area of infl uence of the project. We undertook a face to face interview using a prepared assessment grounded in association and perception techniques and tests such as the Implicit Association Tests, Bag of Words Model, Semantic Latent Analysis, the Remote Analysis Test (RAT), the Down Arrow Technique and neurophysiological tools like the BTSA (Bezinger Thinking Styles Assessment). We were able to defi ne the average brain dominance of the target market group and collect non-conscious answers related to the association and perception of working spaces / architecture with positive / negative experiences and their meaning.
The study results showed that the target market group for the project have five relevant psychometric characteristics which govern their office building project buying behavior:
1) The average target market group have a frontal left and double basal brain dominance which determined the following:
a) For 95% of the target market group a “fair price” for a purchase of an office means to get all that was offered and they agree on; otherwise they feel it´s an “unfair price” and they associate the purchase experience with feelings of betrayal and deceit, generating rejection of the project. For the developer, it is very important to comply with what is offered in the pre-sales design proposal to be able to close the sale deals.
b) 77% said it is important that the building design, materials, textures, colors and finishes should be perceived as accessible and not too expensive; no matter if imitation products are used.
c) 83 % believed that everything in the office building design must generate in them a sense of belonging and social approval to help them reinforce the feeling of “what they are and do is enough to be accepted” by others, especially from family and close friends.
2) 85% of respondents associated the architectural style, colors and textures of an office with the perception of achievement, since there is a high tendency (95%) to compare themselves with the upper segment, socioeconomically speaking.
3) 93% prefer “conservative colors and textures” they said, similar to those currently used in their workspaces. This finding was of great importance for the final design of the building because after the study, we made an architectural texture and color research around the areas of influence to determine which colors and textures they consider and call conservative.
4) 87% are willing to pay a value above the market average price if their future office space has the flexibility to adapt to different uses including dividing it to rent to others.
5) For 73 %, an office building project should be and perceived as: secure (meaning that the building management makes them feel safe), serious (meaning that the architecture looks professional but casual at the same time), flexible (meaning that it can be adaptable to different uses) and accessible (economically speaking). Thus, owning an office in this project must give the perception of professional achievement. These four words summarize the type of architectural design that the office building needs to have to be considered as a first-option purchase.
After having the architectural proposal, we used biometric hardware and software such as eye- tracking, facet and pupillometry analysis to assess the level of attention and emotive activation of the fi nal design to determine its acceptance by the target market group. Finally, a sales strategy was structured with duration of 18 months. The strategy began with an “Open Day Pre-Sales Event” in which the expectation was to sell up to 2% of the total project. To the surprise of the developers, at the end of the “Open Day Pre-Sales Event” 25% of the 210 offices were sold; that is, 50 units. This scope reduced the financial cost by 20% and decreased by a quarter the sales project time line, giving them the cash fl ow certainty they needed to execute the project with a lower level of stress on the investment.
This is one of several studies that have been conducted for a number of customers, where the goal has been to understand the language of associative and perceptive communication that consumers have and which governs and determines how to approve and buy a real estate product. Biometric tools such as eye-tracking, facet and pupillometry, EEG analysis and assessments have been used in most studies to ensure that the fi nal product meets with the recommendations of the psychometric investigation of what draws attention and evokes the correct emotions to be remembered as the first option of purchase.