Home builders have long realized women were their target customers. Even so, they rarely asked women what they really wanted.
By: Tammy Swift, INFORUM
And so, for decades, homes were built with tiny closets, cramped foyers and small, isolated kitchens.
But all that’s changing. One local builder, Heritage Homes, has adopted a patented design concept known as “Woman-Centric Design,” which offers floor plans and marketing techniques based on five years of women-oriented market research and focus groups.
“It taught us a whole new perspective in building and selling homes,” says Tyrone Leslie, president and CEO of Heritage Homes. “It’s our duty as a builder to understand our customers. And shame on us for not doing that sooner.”
Woman-Centric Design is the brainchild of a Nebraska-based company, Design Basics Inc., which is – fittingly enough – headed by a woman.
Design Basics’ female-centered marketing is based on one key statistic: that women directly purchase or control influence in the purchase of 91 percent of all homes, Leslie says.
An example of Heritage’s Woman-Centric design can be seen at this fall’s Parade of Homes. It’s located at 1924 7th St. E., Charleswood, West Fargo.
This home stands in sharp contrast to many older homes and old-school design approaches. Not so long ago, builders expected women and their families to adapt themselves to a limited choice of floor plans, rather than letting women determine how the house could fit their needs, Leslie says.
But Terry Becker says women have always been a vital part of the home-building process. As president-elect of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead and a custom builder, Becker says women influenced home design throughout his 30-plus years in the business; they just have many more design options today than they did a few decades ago.
Becker says certain building trends – increased storage, more luxurious master bedrooms and expanded foyers/mudrooms – have all been influenced by the female customer. While male customers may have strong input on specific aspects of the house, such as the theater room or the shower, the majority of design decisions are made by women, he says.
Design considers storage, flexibility
Heritage Home’s Woman-Centric design is a 4,296-square-foot rambler with gourmet kitchen, maple cabinetry, granite countertops, five bedrooms and three baths. It’s listed in the $524,900 price range.
But it’s also built to follow four key concepts of Woman-Centric design:
These perks sound tempting, but they also beg the question: During tougher economic times, will people pay a little more for extras?
Leslie believes they will. “They’re willing to pay if they understand it and know they’re going to use it.”
And how do men think about all this female-centered marketing? Do they feel marginalized?
“At the end of the day, what they really care is that their wife is happy,” Leslie says.