An analysis of property brand searches across more than 200 residential, commercial and portal companies revealed a market predominantly down year on year, with pockets of stellar performance from some.
Relationship Between Search Queries and Brand Health
Brand searches are inextricably linked to brand recognition, meaning they’re a direct result of awareness, competitive relevance and interest – all strong indicators of overall brand health. This specific type of search is often reserved for clients further down the sales funnel with higher potential to convert, making it a highly valuable stream of traffic.
For brands in the fiercely competitive online property sector, an increase or decrease in brand search can be attributed to several factors: the effectiveness of the marketing strategy, market-related factors, the economy, changing consumer habits or the efforts of rival brands. Fortunately, positioning from a volume perspective and a robust marketing strategy can have a significant and direct impact on brand demand.
To find out who saw the biggest spikes and dips over the last year, we dived deep into the data to create our 2018 Property Brand Demand Report.
Preview of Results
Only Four of the Top Ten Overall Saw a Positive Uplift
We combined residential, commercial and portal brands into one list for comparison. Of the top 10 brands with the highest monthly search volume overall, only four saw a positive uplift in brand demand YoY. Of the top 50 overall, more than half saw a decline in brand demand over the last year, which indicates just how tough and diverse the landscape is right now.
MediaVision CEO Louis Venter says “The market is undoubtedly tough, however we still see pockets of great performance from innovative brands deploying great marketing strategies. There’s a strong focus on digital and measurement, which is helping them disrupt the sector and gain market share”.
Splitting Brands into Categories
Categorising brands into residential, commercial and portal lists enabled us to take a closer look at performance. Here’s what the rankings revealed.
A Tough Market for Residential Brands
- Only three of the top ten resi brands saw an increase in brand demand
- Of the top 30 with the highest search volume, 10 saw an increase in brand demand
- Twice as many brands saw a decline
Residential brand frontrunner is Dexters, with an increase of 6% YoY. The London agency chain beat out Savills, Knight Frank and Foxtons, who all saw a decline in brand demand.
Dexters made the news back in 2016, by shedding 20 different brands and a holding business to become a single entity that now has over 70 branches across London. The brand has since expanded even more by co-marketing homes acquiring and rebranding more businesses. It also didn’t hurt that John Cleese asked Dexters to sell his London pied-à-terre earlier this year as he prepared to leave the UK ahead of Brexit, giving the brand widespread exposure.
Strong Competition Among Commercial Brands
- One commercial brand stands head and shoulders above the rest with a 58% increase in demand
- Overall, commercial brands fared better than their residential counterparts
- Of the top 30 brands overall, 20 saw a decline against 10 that spiked
With aggressive growth in the market since launching, and subsequent status as one of the most valuable start-ups in the world, WeWork leads the way this year with a 58% increase in brand demand.
Flexible office space has become a major disruptor in the real estate industry. With spaces offering co-working, shorter leases, stellar coffee and a greater sense of community for small teams and corporates, demand has increased around the globe in recent years. WeWork has tapped into this growing trend by appealing to an industrious audience that wants more from an office than just a desk space. Aside from its massive size – members are projected to hit 400,000 by the end of the year – the brand captures end-user and press attention with details like amped up amenities, innovative networking events, beer taps, food bars and more. These are all tied together by a strong marketing strategy.
Portals and Online Agents Disrupting the Industry
- Online agencies are becoming major competitors to traditional brands
- Three of the seven major brands saw an increase in brand demand
- Newest portal to market sees the biggest growth in demand
With an increase in brand demand at 31% YoY, industry disruptor OnTheMarket has become a major competitor to property portals Zoopla and Rightmove, who both slipped from the top spots with a decreasing brand demand. The big portals are still far ahead in terms of volume but there is no doubting OnTheMarket’s trajectory.
OnTheMarket benefitted from widespread exposure after winning a year-long battle with rivals, when a tribunal ruled in their favour regarding portal listing restrictions last year. The brand has been aggressively investing in expansion and marketing ever since. Earlier this year, OnTheMarket announced plans to create an agent-backed full-scale property portal, as well as a marketing strategy to support brand awareness and portal usage.
How to Respond to a Drop in Brand Demand
The first thing to understand is that declining brand demand isn’t limited to the property sector. In retail, brand demand is heavily dictated by seasonal trends, launches, and the ability to respond to real-time events. For example, we’ve seen the volume of fashion brand searches double within a week during the run up to Christmas. And when unseasonably cold weather hit UK shores in late February, high street brands relying on their spring/summer collections to generate revenue were suddenly hit with a major decline in demand.
As for the best way to respond, Louis says:
- “First and most crucial, is a complete review of your marketing strategy. Measure everything – I can’t stress that enough. Look at what’s driving leads and what isn’t. Evaluate cost per enquiry across both online and offline spend, and understand the purchase funnel for your business. It’s hardly ever just one click and engage.”
- “Once you have this, then invest the money where you see the best return. This will give you a solid base to leap from.”
- “Then innovate. Pursue a content-led strategy amplified through all digital channels that engages with your audience. Don’t just sell to them, turn their heads with good content that is relevant. Build these relationships in the quiet times and that will help you reap when the market returns.”
- “And finally, analyse every last detail of your long-term SEO performance, because it’s the best cost-per-lead tactic out there.”