Residential developers in the Middle East can differentiate themselves from their competitors and increase value over the long-term by building close, long-term customer relationships through data-driven, customer experiences. By using innovative technologies and data insights, gained in both virtual and real-world environments, developers can obtain a better picture of customer lifestyle requirements and post-purchase needs, enabling their customers to find the right community. 

According to the latest report by Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network moving from a focus on transactions to relationships can allow developers to adapt their offerings, increase customer lifetime value, generate new revenue streams, and ultimately, beat the competition.

Although customer experience is already the main way for developers to stand out from the crowd, these companies can go further to maintain the value of their products. The report highlights the recent changes in the retail sector that used detailed knowledge of customers from data analytics to offer exceptional customer experience, and deployed multiple channels to build loyalty.

Bilal Mikati, partner with Strategy& Middle East, said: “Developers can no longer compete largely on product delivery, price, or even sales and after-sales service. Instead, much like their retail peers, residential developers can differentiate themselves by offering a superlative customer experience that is driven by in-depth customer knowledge and enabled by data analytics.”

“To stand out, developers need to provide personalized products and services for customers. These should be based on lifestyle factors, such as whether people are active or retirees, by drawing on relevant data that provide meaningful experiences,” added Mikati.

The report argues that developers have three ways to differentiate themselves and add value: Personalization of products through micro-segmentation of the customer base; expansion of data-driven services; and the exploration of innovative technologies. In particular, developers must cater to the insatiable appetite for technology of generation Z (those born after 1997 and who grew up with digital technology). 

Zahi Awad, principal with Strategy& Middle East, said: “Generation Z is now renting and buying homes. This demographic has digital expectations that many developers are not meeting. A great product, attractive price, strong sales and after sales service are not enough. These customers need differentiated products and services that are authentically personalized to their lifestyles, and that provide them with the right community.”

Developers that take a data-driven, community-focused approach accrue three main benefits and opportunities. This includes a smoother sales experience, which helps to start the long-term relationship; while this is enhanced further with access to established digital communities, providing valuable data on customers, and helping developers tailor products and services; and helping to generate value in the community before the development is completed, turning customers into advocates for the project. 

“Using data to understand customers’ needs while placing them in the right setting can also improve their retention. People appreciate, and like to remain, in cohesive communities that reflect their wants. Such established, digitally-enabled communities provide valuable data insights that allow developers to elaborate products and services and come up with new areas for customer engagement,” concluded Ramy Sfeir, partner with Strategy& Middle East.