Shariful Islam Tareq, Head of Brand & Marketing (AGM) at Jamuna Builders Ltd, shares his insights into overcoming the challenges of real estate marketing in today’s competitive environment.
What is the current state of the real estate industry in Bangladesh, and what has been its contribution to the growth of the economy?
As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Bangladesh struggles with a severe housing shortage. Projections based on the latest population census indicate that the total housing demand was 0.8 million units in 2020, and will rise to 1.14 million units by 2030. Despite this pressing need, the housing sector stands out as one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, recognising the vital role of infrastructural development in propelling Bangladesh towards becoming a developed nation.
The housing sector is a significant contributor to employment, behind only the agriculture and ready-made garments sector. It contributes 7.96% of the GDP and, according to REHAB, through linkage industries such as MS bar, cement, brick, sand, ceramic, paint, and fixtures, the contribution is a noteworthy 12%. Furthermore, the sector adds revenues through VAT, registration fees, utility fees, and other avenues amounting to nearly BDT 5.0 billion per year.
In recent years, various regions across Bangladesh, primarily Dhaka, have seen the rise of elite gated communities, satellite towns, and condominium projects, alongside traditional housing setups. These innovative concepts are designed to improve the quality of life for the country’s residents, bringing modern living conveniences within easy reach and contributing to the advancement of Bangladesh’s housing landscape.
Given the growth of the industry, the real estate landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. What should be the marketing strategy to ensure that a brand can stand out amidst this competition?
Strategic marketing of the housing business can be executed by creating a creative marketing team and concentrating efforts on the following. The first is market analysis. You should understand the local quality of life, market scope, and consumer needs. It is also important to identify competitors, visible and invisible opportunities, and categorise consumers based on the product. Communication and packaging come next. By prioritising product standardisation and using informative brochures to showcase attention-grabbing features, you can establish effective communication with your target market. It is also crucial nowadays to develop a strong online presence with SEO-friendly websites.
To identify the target market, you must utilise digital marketing for quality lead generation. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and online portals are very resourceful for reaching customers with busy schedules. This, paired with good customer relationship management is key in real estate marketing. So, establish a sophisticated call centre equipped with representatives well-trained in modern CRM software.
Finally, you cannot ignore research and development. Form a dedicated R&D team to conduct pricing analysis, justify prices, and analyse customer demands. Keep yourself well-informed of competitor activities and contribute to the long-term strategic plan. The strategic plan should encompass consumer demographics, behaviours and socio-economic factors. You should work towards developing a realistic marketing strategy incorporating segmentation, idea creation, and concept development.
How does Jamuna Builders Ltd ensure a superior value proposition in both the housing and commercial real estate sectors?
Value proposition talks about important details such as what the company can do for their clients, how customers can benefit from it and why customers should choose them over their competitors. Jamuna Builders Limited can ensure a superior value proposition by offering unique selling propositions (USPs) that differentiate themselves from their competitors. These USPs include things like offering a wider range of services, providing better customer service, or having more competitive pricing. In 1999, Jamuna Group entered the housing business with the formation of Jamuna Builders Ltd to address the problem of the scarcity of land in Bangladesh and the importance of providing the people with an affordable housing solution. To that extent, Jamuna Builders offers very competitive prices and reasonable terms of purchase with the added flexibility of long-term leases and hire agreements.
In the commercial landscape, Jamuna Builders Ltd.’s efforts have significantly enriched the commercial real estate sector of Bangladesh exemplified by one of its pride projects, Jamuna Future Park. Jamuna Future Park is the largest shopping mall in Southeast Asia, built on a grand scale of 33 acres of land adjacent to Baridhara Pragati Sharani. It was established in keeping with the idea of offering great value in the retail environment to its consumers and recognising a substantial gap for value-driven shopping malls. Jamuna Future Park proudly stands out as an international standard shopping mall with a view to offer trendy, stylish, brand-driven, safe and comfortable shopping experiences at an extremely attractive and affordable price.
Where do you see Bangladesh’s real estate sector heading?
From a historical perspective, the real estate sector has been growing since it entered the business arena right after independence and is expected to continue supporting and strengthening economic development and social progress in the country. Recently, the Boston Consulting Group did a study that showed that in 2015 there were only 10 key cities with more than 300,000 Middle and Affluent Class (MAC) consumers each. Projections suggest that, in 10 years, there will be 33 towns and cities with some having more than 2 million MAC consumers. The right product and placement can convert these populations into customers, and there seems to be immense potential outside Dhaka as well. Another study by PWC shows that by 2030, Bangladesh will be the 28th largest economy, strongly signifying that there are still lots of opportunities for growth in this sector. To capitalise on this opportunity, the government has plans to promote domestic and foreign investments in the real estate sector. Moreover, entrepreneurs in this industry are making relentless efforts to build a sustainable housing sector keeping in mind the future demand and supply scenario. Given the momentum, we estimate that at least USD 700 billion will be invested in the next 50 years just in housing alone.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shariful Islam Tareq