The Rise of Digital Disruption & Marketing Innovation in UAE’s Real Estate Industry

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Real Estate has been going through a seismic shift over the last few years as this age-old industry is beginning to embrace digital disruption. The rapidly changing technology landscape is now all about innovation, agility, and openness to change. Technology is no more a behind-the-scenes facilitator but has become a part of a brand’s reputation. Imran Khan, CEO of PIXL, shares how technology is helping the real estate sector stay relevant in the digital age.

Technologies that disrupt existing practices and take their place, changing the face of the industry are commonly referred to as disruptive technology. The idea originates from the term “Disruptive Innovation” coined by the author Clayton M. Christensen. He observed that it is not “the technology in itself that breaks the pattern but it’s a business model which follows a new technology that is disruptive.” 

Compared to other industries, real estate adopted digital technology much later. Slowly but surely, change has made its way and it is here to stay.

So, here are the key reasons that nudged the industry into a digital awakening.

Internet Penetration

According to Statista, UAE’s rate of internet penetration is a staggering 99% which makes it the second most connected country in the world. The average daily time spent by individuals (including all devices) is a whopping 8 hours 36 minutes. Now, this is an easy decision to make. If almost all of your audience is present online for the better part of the day, you have to be there to meet them halfway! Offline marketing and other traditional marketing have now shifted to facilitate brand recall and image building, and online platforms are now steering sales and marketing campaigns from the forefront.

The Emergence of PropTech 

PropTech (an acronym for Property Technology) entails the use of technology for operations, sales, and marketing in the real estate space through tools such as virtual reality, online listings, automated payments, and more. PropTech enables real estate companies to take informed and data-backed decisions, optimize business operations, manage sales pipelines, and plan marketing campaigns all from a unified single platform.  PropTech and digital marketing solutions have brought about an era where real estate is seamlessly accessible to all stakeholders from developers to buyers. Companies not embracing this change will have to spend more resources to catch up with the competitors.

User Experience is definitely king

“Experience” is the buzzword, or the holy grail when it comes to marketing and selling. From the website to your sales center, conversion depends on how seamless the user experience is. Just having a website doesn’t work anymore. Your website is your asset and your brand’s digital avatar. In most cases, it is the first point of contact for your audience. The real Estate industry is waking up to this truth and has joined the bandwagon. Developing a viable online marketing strategy complete with a cohesive user experience across all the customer touchpoints will allow realtors to reach out to their target audience effectively.

Target Audience: Millennials

Since 2010, millennials have consistently been the main group of home buyers and this trend is expected to continue and spill over to Gen Y and Gen Z in the next few years. Millennials depend on the internet for everything They begin their research on properties before actually reaching out to an agent or a broker, unlike previous generations. This makes having a professional and influential digital presence imperative.

Rise of Web3 & Blockchain Technology

The three major disruptive innovations that changed the way the real estate industry functions are blockchain technology, augmented reality, and AI-enabled data integration platforms. Now there are transactions being processed in cryptocurrencies in the real estate space and virtual real estate investing in the metaverse is also rising.

Real estate marketers will have to explore these technologies to be future-ready. Even though the real estate industry heavily relies on the human element, it will be wise to understand how these disruptive changes will come about and what they will be.

Digital disruption

The pandemic revolutionized the modus operandi for the real estate sector and pushed businesses to think outside the box. As a result, there has been a spectacular change from real to virtual in the real estate industry. 

The availability of real-time market data, changes in customer behavior, and AR/ VR (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality) technology advancements have hastened this field’s development. Demand for online shopping and virtual house tours is at an all-time high. 3D renders and virtual walk-throughs have become normal now for most real estate companies.

As of today, the UAE real estate market has recorded AED 204.5 billion worth of sales, which is a massive 77.8% higher than the last year even though property prices are at an all-time high. The digital transformation that took place in the industry has had a big role to play in these pathbreaking sales figures.

To wrap it up, real estate marketers will need to continue to be agile and open-minded in their marketing efforts. Even though technology has seeped into everything we do in our daily lives, ironically, we connect with brands for the values they represent and the stories they tell. Your branding should reflect all these in the digital world while embracing the latest technologies to remain in step with your target audience.

This op-ed was featured in Campaign Middle East by Imran Khan, CEO & Founder of PIXL.