This article originally appeared in Water Quality Products March 2020 issue as "Home Sweet Home"
New homeowners are excellent prospects for water quality products. There are lots of statistics that support this, including results from the 2019 Water Quality Association (WQA) Consumer Opinion Study.
But before we get into all of that, let us get to know a little about the new homeowners, including their demographics, as well as the characteristics of the homes they purchased. Last year, there were 8.8 million new homeowners. So, who were they?
What Do New Homeowners Buy?
Most new homeowners are excited about their new home purchase. And that means buying a lot of things, including furnishings, major appliances and water filtration products.
According to a survey by Welcome Homeowners Magazine of new homeowners buying habits, 72% of new homeowners will spend between $10,000 and $25,000 within the first year after they move. Forty-one percent of these new homeowners will buy furniture. Twenty percent will buy furniture within the first 30 days.
Traditionally, the water quality industry has found that new homeowners represent a vital prospect group for water treatment dealers.
According to the 2019 WQA Consumer Opinion Study, two-thirds (63%) of Americans purchased some sort of water treatment system in the first year they moved into their current home.
The WQA study drilled down the water filtration purchases new homeowners made. More than two-thirds bought a point-of-use/point-of-entry product (40%) or a refrigerator filter (37%), while the remaining purchases were dominated by reverse osmosis (RO) (11%). That means that more than half of new homeowners will buy a water filtration product other than a refrigerator filter. That also means that 51 out of 100 new homeowners are prime prospects for a water dealership.
Fine-Tuning Your Value Proposition
A strong value proposition is not about the actual features of your system, but the benefits it provides to the user. Your goal is to move the conversation away from price and focus on what your system can do to improve someone’s life. When it comes to the new homeowner, there are six main points to incorporate into your presentation.
Bad tasting water is a common complaint of the majority of people who move into a new home. People who move from a city often find well water difficult to enjoy. Country-to-city transplants compare municipal water with drinking out of a bleach bottle.
The point is that regardless of actual contaminants present, people feel a strong allegiance to the water they grew up with.
Not only can you capitalize on water taste, you can also focus your efforts on tap water odor or color.
New homeowners are making their new house a home. They are customizing and making themselves comfortable. A water filtration system or water conditioner is not only an investment in their new home but a smart way to personalize their new home to their specific taste.
This is especially true for those new homeowners who purchased a resale home. Most of the time, new homeowners will focus on these types of improvements five months after the purchase.
This is a key time to discuss the appearance of a home. For example, if this is a hard water, well water or high-iron area, make sure to emphasize the value of a water softener to inhibit rust. After all, no new homeowner wants to be embarrassed by rust stains when company comes calling.
This is also a good time to show off the different faucets you offer.
Peace of Mind.
Every homeowner is concerned about water quality. This is especially true for the 37% of new homeowners who have children living at home.
According to the 2019 WQA Consumer Opinion Study, households with children are far more likely to purchase a water filtration system in the future than those without children. Parents understand that contaminant-free water is a factor in their children’s healthy life.
There is enough in the news every day to concern any sane person. This is your opportunity to explain how a water filtration system purifies and protects against contamination. This is not only about drinking water, but well water and septic systems. Your system is the barrier that provides peace of mind.
Remember, WQA marketing guidelines are very clear in terms of the use of scare tactics. You do not need them. People are already scared. Your job is to show how you are providing the solution.
Convenience & Energy Savings.
According to Freddie Mac, one of the goals of new homeowners is to bring energy-efficiency and convenience to their new home.
One of the most practical, dollar-saving amenities of a water filtration system is the 24/7 convenience it provides. No more buying water at the grocery store and lugging it home.
When it comes to energy savings, a water conditioning system saves money on electricity, keeps appliances running smoothly and eliminates scale.
In the sales process, this is where you need to fine-tune your presentation needs versus wants. Needs are things in life which are required for basic survival, like shelter, food and clothing. Wants are things in life, which are not essential for survival but are desired for comfort, convenience or status.
According to a National Association of Realtors (NARs) study, 25% of new homeowners cut spending on luxury or non-essential items to afford their new home. This is where you position water filtration or conditioning as a need instead of a want.
A new homeowner can save thousands of dollars a year by investing in a reusable, BPA-free water container and refilling it throughout the day. Americans tend to average nearly 200 water bottles a year. At an average cost of two dollars a bottle, that can add up fast. This might also be where you offer a reusable water container as a gift with purchase.
The same Freddie Mac report recommends that new homeowners consider the investments they make in their homes seriously. The study showed that mechanical and energy-efficient improvements will return the most value for the investment.
A water filtration or conditioning system is a good investment. It is a valued feature for resale.
A recent study done by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Economics team focused on millennial home buying preferences.
The 2018 survey asked recent and prospective buyers to rate 175 different features on the following four-tier scale:
- Essential: Unlikely to buy a home without feature;
- Desirable: Seriously influenced to buy home if included;
- Indifferent: Would not influence purchase decision; and
- Do Not Want: Not likely to buy a home with feature.
In terms of most wanted features when buying a new home, 30% of millennials said that a water filtration system was essential; 42% said it was a desirable feature.
That means almost three-quarters of millennial home buyers feel that a water filtration system is an important feature in their home and are influenced by this when buying a home.
Protecting the Environment.
Not a day goes by without news about the effect of plastic water bottles in our landfills, in the ocean and its devastating impact on marine creatures.
The millennial cohort is the most outspoken group in terms of environmental impact. With almost half of new home buyers in the millennial cohort, explaining how a system protects the environment goes a long way when you describe the benefits of your system.
In conclusion, new homeowners are a unique market segment. There is no question that they will continue to be a top prospect group in the water quality industry. To be successful, dealers and marketing managers need to make sure their advertising materials for this group focus on what makes new homeowners tick.
Demographics of the 8.8 million Home Buyers:
- 37% (3.3 million) of all recent home buyers were first-time buyers.
- The typical home buyer was 40 years old.
- Recent home buyers had a median household income of $91,600.
- 27% of recent home buyers were racial or ethnic minorities.
- 37% (3.3 million) of all buyers had children under the age of 18 living in the home.
Characteristics of the 8.8 million Homes Purchased:
- The median price of homes purchased by home buyers in 2018 was $250,000.
- 80% of homes purchased were detached single family homes.
- Recent home buyers purchased homes with a median of 1,900 square feet.
- Recent home buyers purchased homes with a median year built of 1991.
How & Why the 8.8 million Homes Were Purchased:
- 11% of recent home buyers purchased a home without a down payment.
- 52% of recent home buyers used savings or cash on hand for the down payment.
- The top reasons why recent home buyers decided to move were to “move for a better home”;
- (55%), to “move for a better neighborhood”(46%), and to “move to form a household” (39%).
- 84% of all buyers reported they viewed a home purchase as a good investment.
* These statistics courtesy of the 2018 National Association of Home Builders study on the Characteristics of Recent New Home Buyers and the 2019 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report.