The Pros & Cons of Consumer Brand Partnerships

Very few in the business world would dispute the power of partnerships. The challenge exists in finding the right partner, one that is mutually beneficial and genuinely moves the needle for an organization. 

The multifamily industry has gotten more aggressive in implementing partnerships with consumer brands in recent years, but it remains a work in progress. The growing number of partnerships is largely concentrated among tech providers, most notably in the smart-home category. Apartment communities will include in marketing materials that items such as Nest or ecobee thermostats are available to all residents. They’ll offer Google or Apple home devices as move-in incentives and tout the conveniences of Amazon or Package Concierge digital package lockers to keep up with the ever increasing ecommerce boom. Partnering with consumer brands can serve as a complementary boost to your brand. But it can also be constricting in some cases and can provide peripheral challenges. Here’s a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks to these partnerships:BenefitsThe reasons for partnering with a consumer brand typically fall into three defined categories—a marketing boost, convenience for residents and onsite teams, and as a way to lower building overhead. The marketing boost comes in the form of a recognizable consumer brand that often resonates with residents. The convenience offered by smart locks, programmable thermostats, virtual assistants, roller shades, smart appliances and anything else in the “smart” realm makes the daily lives of residents easier. It also helps onsite teams streamline building operations and gives them visibility into the in-home preferences of residents. Onsite teams can also lower building operations costs by buying in bulk from a single provider and utilizing the smart-home products to dim lights in vacant common areas, access smart locks remotely and bypass several other tasks that previously had to be done manually. Partnering with a single brand allows an onsite team to streamline all smart-home-related tasks into a single interface. DrawbacksThat’s great that you’re offering residents a brand new Alexa upon move-in. But what if their device of choice is the Apple HomePod? At that point, apartment communities will have to decide whether to require their device of choice or let residents utilize their own off-network brand that might not integrate as smoothly with the community’s smart-home infrastructure. Additionally, partnering with a consumer brand isn’t an instant process. It requires a lot of work on the backend, including an intense vetting process as apartment operators decide which providers best suit their brand. Time also must be afforded to implement the product or system at a building and to train onsite associates on the nuances of the product offering. Another peripheral factor to consider is the possibility of a data breach. It happens fairly frequently to consumer brands and typically results in personal information being compromised. If that brand partners with your portfolio, potential liability risks exist—particularly if residents are associated with the brand strictly because of its presence at your communities. At their best, partnerships serve as a way to elevate a brand by offering an enhanced user experience. Due to that factor alone, expect to see multifamily organizations continue to partner with consumer brands as a way to attract residents. Apartment operators should be aware of the potential drawbacks, however, and should never institute a partnership haphazardly.

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