Home Innovation Insights

Ed Hudson, MBA
September 6, 2012

Effective Green Messaging for New Homes

As I walked around the exhibition hall floor at the International Builders’ Show earlier this year, I could not help but not notice how prominent “green” is in the minds of building product marketers. Green messages were splashed across exhibits in all directions and I found myself thinking, how strange is it that “green” plays such a big role in product manufacturer advertising and such a small one in home builder advertising and sales efforts.

Conventional wisdom among many builders is that talking about green building practices with potential buyers is less effective than speaking about other, more obvious benefits of their homes. To some of these builders, green is simply a feature they can offer to potentially tip the balance and sell a house if a buyer is presented with equal alternatives ... but who wants to build a home that is “equal” to their competitors? There is a growing number of builders successfully selling homes and outshining their competitors using green messaging as part of their strategy—so what are they doing differently?

To explore how builders can maximize the value of green messaging themes in their marketing and sales efforts, Home Innovation Research Labs conducted a survey of approximately 700 potential homebuyers in early 2012. This study was intended to get a general bearing on what topics evoked the strongest positive effect, and how these topics could best be presented. Specifically, we presented a wide variety of new home sales messages to future homebuyers and asked them to respond to each message.

The Results

One stark finding that emerged was that the term “green” on its own has very little impact on the strength of a sales pitch for a new home. Fewer than 20% of respondents indicated they would pay more for a “green home;” and when the term “green” was the crux of a marketing message, positive responses were tepid at best.

Now, some may see this as a proof point to ditch green content in their marketing altogether, but that’s far from what we found to be effective. Green terminology can be very powerful in a comprehensive new home marketing strategy. When a green messaging theme is used skillfully, we found it can work better than claims of superior quality workmanship, experience, or knowledge of building science according to our results. In fact, the strongest new home marketing messages we tested were those that focused on the benefits of a green home—lower utility costs, greater comfort, healthier indoor environment, durability, and low maintenance. This shows homebuyers do desire the benefits of a green home, they just need help making the connection between the benefits and the term “green.” The onus is on green builders to help potential homebuyers make the connection between the idea of green and what it actually means to them and how they live.

Making a Green Message Work

So, how can home builders use a “green theme” to make messaging more powerful?

  • First, craft the message around the benefits of green—like low energy bills, low operations and maintenance costs, comfort, safety, and healthy indoor environment—and associate them with green building.
  • Don’t be afraid to use an occasional feature known to have a positive image among consumers, like a geothermal heat pump, to help describe the reasons behind the benefits.
  • Where possible, add language that helps validate the potential homebuyer’s self image of being a “do the right thing” kind of person. Affirm that the buyer is making a smart and educated choice and, furthermore, emphasize your own commitment as a home builder to being a responsible citizen of the community by building green. This strategy will not only reassure homebuyers that they are the kind of person who recognizes that buying green is a smart choice, but also gives them confidence in their choice of builder—after all, it’s better to buy from a company committed to responsible citizenship than from one seeking to advance self-interest, right?

People generally want to do the right thing, and this study concluded that the vast majority of homebuyers  believe that buying a green home is the right thing, even if they do not readily associate it with its primary benefits. That said, builders who implement effective green messaging—messaging that clearly conveys the benefits of green and connects those benefits to green building—will be successful in convincing potential homebuyers that buying green is the best choice for them.

What are some of the strongest, most successful marketing messages you've found to market new homes in your area?

Back to Top

Filed Under:

Add your Comment

All fields marked with * are required