Henry Ford

Two famous quotes on listening to customers.

One, from Henry Ford: "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

Two, from Steve Jobs: "Customers don't know what they want until we've shown them."

Tough to argue with either statement. Still, while the genius of Ford and Jobs is not a matter of contention, the rest of us mortals mostly do well to talk to and listen to customers as an important part of the neighborhood and home design and development process.

That's not to say that the wisdom of Ford and Jobs should be dismissed. Think of it this way. New home and community developers need to succeed in their customer-centric pursuits and appeal, delight, and satisfy on multiple levels. After all, what triggers the decision in a customer to buy a home may be entirely different than what satisfies and pleases them about that same home's "livability," and ultimately that very same home's "value" when and if it is sold as a piece of real estate.

Giving customers what they want--putting the questions "how do you want to live in your home" higher up in the mix of what causes a prospective customer to buy--is quite uniquely challenging in home building, partly because homes are the most expensive consumer durable many of us will ever commit to buying. It's somewhat a brain thing, but mostly and emotions thing that propels people into the deal.

What if your homes and communities had design, features, and engineered functions that achieved this simple promise to the one who explores and ultimately buys them: "it will change and improve your life. It will transform you into more of the person you want to be by living here."

That's a bold promise. Is it achievable. We're going to find out for at least a significant number of the incredibly important 55+ buyer group, and it's with a hybrid blend of straightforward talking to and listening to present and would-be customers and, brilliantly, showing them what they want when they see it.

Our NEXTadventure program with Taylor Morrison puts discovery--both in the form of talking to and listening to 55+ and future 55+ customers, and "leading the witness," so-to-speak by showing them what they do and will want in their homes and communities--at the very center of its efforts.

Here is a short video from our team of Lauren Honesty and Jim Van Meer, featuring Taylor Morrison president and ceo Sheryl Palmer, chief customer officer Graham Hughes, and project architect Deryl Patterson, president and principal at Housing Design Matters. The video makes this clear about our NEXTadventure program: We are obsessed with the notion of that promise to 55+ customers that their choice of home and community should transform and improve their lives, and make them more the people they want to be.

Video: NEXTAdventure Intro: A Taylor Morrison and Builder Concept Home

A round of research we just completed with our partners at the Farnsworth Group reveals a few flashes of great insight:

The first is this. In spite of increased life expectancy trends, most people look at their purchase of a new home in the 55+ years as a "permanent" home. Their relationship with the idea of this move is as across a threshold, into the next adventure.

A second insight, for example is that multigenerational communities--nearness or integration with--are a high priority for 55+ respondents, as is evidenced here:

Thirdly, when it comes down to 55+ survey respondents' anticipated desire to "personalize" their homes, many of them have plans to do so within fairly short order once they take ownership. Personalization--we know--happens both in the home itself and its features and function, but it's also delivered in how amenities, community space, and interaction with other community residents occurs.

Through our "discovery" process with NEXTadventure, we'll be exploring the questions that get at what people know they prefer, what they think they want, and what our brilliant team of designers, architects, and developers plans to show them they desire.

And it's all about that promise-filled question: how do you want to live? Who do you want to be in the home and community we develop for you?

Our Housing Leadership Summit concluding day of programming will feature a deep dive into these questions, with a stellar line-up of experts and vantage points:

  • David Cobb, Regional Director, South Florida/Naples, Metrostudy
  • Erik Heuser, Chief Strategy Officer, Taylor Morrison
  • Laura Petee-Chrischinske, Channel Marketing Professional, Whirlpool Corporation
  • Jeremy Burbank, Vice President, The Demand Institute
  • Deryl Patterson, President, Housing Design Matters