From Zolo to Nestaway, co-living brands key in the migrant millennial

Topics oyo rental | Oyo Living | OYO users

Oyo Life talks up the privacy its homes offer for young couples in new cities
A young, unmarried couple agonises over life lived under the scrutiny of landlords, while a newly-minted professional talks about spending all his time on the road in Bengaluru because he can’t afford a house close to his office. Advertisements for co-living spaces, the slickly made films that have been released on digital media are pushing the sector under the spotlight. Having relied largely on word-of-mouth communication, broking agents and direct mailers until recently, a band of brands such as Oyo Life, Nestaway, Zolo, Guesture among others have dialled up the noise around their services. The aim:  build awareness, recall and reserve a premium spot in the rapidly growing business of co-living.

The category targets a generation for whom, share, not buy is the mantra of life. The co-living ads are thus talking directly to the concerns and needs of millennials while drawing lessons from industries that have transformed under their influence. For instance, the businesses of transport (Uber, Ola), travel (Airbnb, Oyo) and commercial real estate (WeWork, CoWorks). 

A 2019 report by Ficci and real estate firm JLL on co-living showed that millennial employees are reshaping rental housing in the country. Every city comes with a distinct set of constraints and to appeal to the target audiences, co-living brands are tweaking their services and ads accordingly. Most respondents (76 per cent) in Delhi and Mumbai for instance want air conditioners in a shared accommodation, while in Hyderabad, 79 per cent said food was the most important factor. Zolo Stays has thus focused on food, in its ads and at its homes. 

“We enable the development of lively communities for Zoloites through technology-driven interventions where they can share day-to-day experiences,” says Nikhil Sikri , CEO of Zolo. The Nexus Venture Partners-backed company has created separate landing pages for each city and locality, and further segregated the same on the basis of gender for easy discoverability. It is also using platforms like LeadSquared and Clevertap to set up automated trigger-based campaigns.

Zolo and Guesture emphasise on safety and convenience of shared living
Nestaway which forayed into co-living and student housing with The Hello World last year focuses on identifying and reaching the relevant set of people early in their journey, because people don’t move houses very often and brands need to nudge their way in right at the discovery stage. It widely uses data and analytics to look at patterns which determine when someone would look for a house. “This feeds into our marketing, so that we can be present when they start their house search,” said a company spokesperson.

Oyo’s housing rental solution Oyo Life is appealing to those between 18 and 35 years. It sprinkles humour into its advertising while promoting the brand’s commitment to privacy rights for its residents. Its ads regularly use puns and idioms in its banter with viewers. 

Going by the recent trends, the co-living business may offer a higher rental yield, as much as 8-11 per cent said analysts, as compared to the current average yield of 1-3 per cent in residential properties. No surprise then that brands are flocking to the industry. Interestingly, co-living spaces can also bring down the average cost of living by as much as 10-15 per cent on the back of optimal real estate utilisation and the economies of scale, says a report by property consultancy firm Anarock. 

“Even though co-living is still in a fledgling phase in India, it is definitely here to stay and will find increasing takers not only because of the aspirations of young professionals and students but also the evolving mindset of society in general,” says Anuj Puri, chairman, Anarock Property Consults.

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