Consumer Insights that Drive Product Design and Branding.

To say that the Toronto Condo scene is saturated is an understatement. There are literally hundreds of projects vying for consumers’ attention. Few of them take the (perceived) risk of differentiating themselves. It’s big business and it’s driven by developers looking to mitigate risk for their investors and maximize profits.

The problem is that beyond location and architectural design, there really isn’t much distinction between the projects on offer. Because of developers’ penchant for risk aversion, most refer to the same research when planning their next project. They look at historical data and statistics that guide their decision making. Specifically, they pour over past projects in the same market area and look at what worked and they do their best to emulate that. They look at what features and interior finishes that are ‘popular’ what amenities exist in other projects as well as suite sizes and types. Generally, this is copied over and over again which is essentially why there is so little differentiation in market.

As a marketer (and as a consumer) this can be incredibly boring. The very reason we push our clients to get involved early in product design. We like to bring insights to the table that encourage innovative thinking. Insights that help break the cycle of monotony and parity in product design.

We were approached to brand and market a new condo project in Midtown Toronto. A location that is especially saturated with mega-sized glass towers on offer. The project itself was to be a 500+ unit tower. The second phase of a 2-tower project. Phase 1, was mostly sold out, however, the developer, and their previous marketing team had taken a lot longer to sell than they had forecasted and absorption was slow and somewhat painful.

With phase 2 coming on board, the developer was ready to market a carbon copy of phase 1. These are the moments when bravery and a little belligerence go a long way. Strategically, I tried to make a strong case for change. If phase 1 had taken this long to sell, how would bringing a carbon copy to market fare any better?

We wrangled the client into half-day brainstorming session. We had some pre-conceived ideas of where we wanted to end up but wanted to keep the thinking fluid. The truth that we brought to the table was that the midtown area had lost it’s vibe. In the 90’s it had been the destination for the city’s “young and eligible” and one of the hottest neighbourhoods in Toronto. It had since become a sleepy, congested, construction-filled area that most people tried to avoid. The task: leverage this new project to reinvigorate the neighbourhood and create a vibe that would attract young professionals back to midtown.

The first breakthrough idea was to leverage the retail space at the base of the tower as a 24HR Diner. This would signal a change to the neighbourhood – that it was no longer a ‘sleepy’ area. That there was a destination you could visit for a great vibe, craft beer and some comfort food any time of day. This became the springboard for an entire program that was centered around a “24-Hour” lifestyle.We took the idea and continued to build: A Rooftop Pool scene was created to emulate the “Las Vegas” style day parties. Complete with bar, cabanas and of course, foodservice provided by the diner.

Unique spa amenities were conceived to aid the late night crowd nurse hangovers on Sunday mornings. Hot Stone Beds, a Eucalyptus Steam Room a Spa Lounge to sip on cucumber water were also developed. Hotel-style services would also be provided such as room service and dog walking.

Once the product concept was fully baked, the branding followed suit. “Always On” became the campaign tagline. The sales office became a mock 24HR diner and all branding and collateral helped to pay off the unique lifestyle on offer. Including this video we developed:

All in all, the project became the fastest selling condo project in midtown in 2015 outpacing the first phase sales in half the time.