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Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power

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From big data to behavioural science, this year’s HIA National conference presenters talk about how knowledge gives us the power to do things better, whether you’re planning a neighbourhood or marketing your business.

Gabrielle Chariton

Content Writer

The HIA National Conference is where members come together to find inspiration and fresh ideas to propel their businesses and our industry to new heights.

This year, we invite you to strap in for two high-energy speaking events: Urban Futurist and Housing Trends Expert Lucinda Hartley and Behavioural Scientist and Advertising Creative Adam Ferrier. Lucinda takes us on a fascinating journey into how big data and trends can help us solve the multi-faceted challenges facing Australia’s housing industry. And Adam brings a whole new perspective to business marketing. Find out how applying consumer psychology can help you understand – and change – your customers’ behaviours.

Together, Adam and Lucinda will challenge your thinking and help you find fresh ways to build a successful housing business.

Lucinda Hartley: Urban Futurist and Housing Trends Expert
Adam Ferrier: National Chief Thinker, Thinkerbell

Postcodes, genetic codes, housing codes

As someone who helped to shape Goal 11 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals during the early stages of her career, (‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, in case you were wondering),

Lucinda Hartley’s ultimate aim is to transform the trajectory of urban planning and development in Australia.

While she initially set out to become an architect, Lucinda’s scope widened when she learned how urban planning significantly impacts people’s quality of life. ‘I remember coming across some research on neighbourhoods and wellbeing. And what they found is that your neighbourhood is directly correlated to your life expectancy. So basically, your postcode is more likely to affect your life expectancy than your genetic code,’ she says. ‘And I remember thinking, I’m drawing lines on a page deciding how neighbourhoods of the future will be built, and this might influence someone’s prosperity and life expectancy.’

Her incredibly progressive ideas about housing and urban planning are underpinned by the concept of ‘neighbourhood’: a place that facilitates physical activity, where amenities are within walking distance, and with in-built economic opportunity. These three attributes, in turn, foster social connection and a sense of community – something that’s critical to our mental health and wellbeing.

As Australia stares down the barrel of 1.2 million new homes in the next five years, Lucinda says, ‘I think the big challenge is that building more houses alone won’t solve the problem unless we’re thinking about how we establish neighbourhoods that have that economic opportunity, physical exercise and social connection as well.

‘It’s a very difficult equation because it’s a real shared responsibility between the developer, the community, the council. It’s something that does have to evolve.

‘If we do that, we’ll solve the housing problem and create great places. If not, we’re baking in problems of the future.’

Acknowledging the generational shift will be a key factor in the success of Australian housing development over the next several years.

Next-gen housing 

As debate continues over the merits of greenfield vs brownfield development, Lucinda suggests that both can work so long as liveability and social cohesion are considered. However, she suggests that infill is more economical thanks to existing infrastructure.

‘My professional opinion is that we should build up, not out. Unfortunately, in Australia, we have a lot of bad examples of high-density development. We have very few mid-rise examples. Barcelona is one of the densest cities in the world, and people don’t go there and feel like it’s a horrible place to live. They think it’s fun and exciting.’

She adds that thoughtfully planned urban infill enabling active, connected lifestyle also aligns with the generational shift occurring as Millennials and Gen Z enter the housing market. ‘They want a much more urbanised lifestyle.’

Acknowledging this generational shift – and identifying their unique needs – will be a key factor in the success (or otherwise) of Australian housing development over the next several years.

To address this knowledge gap, Lucinda co-founded Neighbourlytics in 2017, which leverages big data to help property developers and governments understand human behaviours and lifestyle factors to make hyper-informed planning decisions. While she’s no longer part of the company, Lucinda continues to lead the way in analysing these trends.

‘So how have lifestyles shifted through COVID? What are the emerging trends that we need to pay attention to? Huge technological advancements are happening that will impact the kinds of cities and neighbourhoods that we need. Too often, we look to the past data to predict a future rather than trying to understand current trends,’ she says.

‘The more information that we can know about who our future citizen is, who that homebuyer is, who that market is, then we can start to design solutions that are going to work rather than having just a guess.’ 

During her HIA conference presentation, Lucinda will explore the fascinating intersection between data and the future of Australia’s housing needs. She is excited about the opportunity to have ‘a robust conversation about housing with people who are at the forefront of creating it’.

Marketing mind-games 

Adam Ferrier, a one-time Prison Psychologist who completed a Master’s thesis on what constitutes ‘cool’, is one of Australia’s most recognisable advertising and marketing experts (yes, you saw him on The Gruen Transfer, Sunrise, and Celebrity Apprentice). His approach is all about implementing behavioural science and consumer psychology to get more bang for your marketing buck. He’ll be giving the HIA audience some insider tips and practical ways to put the power of psychology to work in your business.

When Adam first decided to take his psychology qualifications into the world of advertising, he discovered that science and marketing came out of completely separate textbooks. ‘When I started, there was no science,’ he explains. ‘It was all just made-up stuff, you know; it wasn’t to say that it wasn’t effective. It was just who’s got the loudest voice or whoever can sound the most convincing. I was spun out at how unrigorous it was.’

Over the past 15 years, the advent of behavioural economics and the evidence-based approaches of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia have brought a new dimension to advertising and marketing. Understanding what motivates consumer behaviours creates a ‘scaffold’ – that eliminates some guesswork behind your strategies and messaging. ‘It means we have a much better understanding of what works and why, and good foundations to build from,’ Adam says.

However, as National Chief Thinker and founder of award-winning advertising agency Thinkerbell, Adam says the magic really happens when evidence-based strategies and ‘hardcore creativity’ come together. ‘Creativity is about coming up with ideas, and that is still a magical thing that psychology doesn’t have. It’s so important to emotionally engage with people and to be creative in how you get the solutions.’

Understanding what motivates consumer behaviours creates a ‘scaffold’ – that eliminates some guesswork behind your strategies and messaging.

Branding and behaviour

Adam says that business owners can apply a dose of this ‘measured magic’ to amplify their own in-house marketing strategies, focusing on two key areas: building a brand, and learning how to change their customers’ behaviour.

Branding is ‘really, really important’, as fundamental as foundations are to a house. Without a brand, you have nothing to market. ‘A strong brand commands value. Basically, it makes people pay more for your services or use you more often. If HIA members learn how to brand themselves better, they’ll be able to do that,’ Adam says. ‘I will talk about three ways they can do that.’

The second part is where psychology comes in: Adam will share, in his conference presentation, how you can learn how to change people’s behaviour (otherwise known as creating the perfect customer). ‘This is how members can get people to pay them on time, how to get people to use them, how to get people to, you know, not be dickheads and negotiate over things they never agreed to in the first place, and all that kind of stuff.’ 

It’s OK to DIY

Adam’s final piece of advice? Marketing shouldn’t be looked at as a compartmentalised, experts-only area. Take a holistic approach: make marketing everyone’s responsibility.

‘If the whole organisation understands what the brand is, it’s not just the marketing team who’s doing promotions, but everything the entity does is marketing, it’s building the brand,’ Adam says. ‘To do that, you must clearly understand what your brand stands for and express that consistently across every single touchpoint. You’ll need to make yourself as famous in the minds of your customers as you possibly can. Those things will mean you have a more successful, profitable business.’

Finally, for anyone desperate to know what Adam’s Master’s thesis revealed about what makes people cool: ‘Self-belief and confidence, defying convention, understated achievement, caring for others, and connectivity.’ Yeah, man.

Come and join us for this year's National Conference

Don’t miss Lucinda Hartley and Adam Ferrier at HIA's National Conference in Cairns on 16-18 May.

Early bird registrations are available until April 30.

First published on 6 March 2024

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