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PURELY BY INVITATION

Times Of India { Property Times } Page 01 - 1 February, 2012

The trend of developers designing projects and inviting only a set of potential customers who satisfy certain criteria is here to stay, says RAJIV DOGRA A relatively new concept in India - though old in the West - is a 'by invitation project', a developer would invite only a set of potential customers who satisfy certain criteria laid out by them. Similarly, depending on the project and developer the parameters could vary. It relatively means that the project caters only to a 'select' set of customers who 'match up to' or 'live up to' the project's philosophy and vision - though developers admit that it is not just about who has the money but about defining some 'unifying' theme that unites all the buyers of the project. Sharing an anecdote from the West, Manish Kaneria, Director, Mont Vert Homes, says: "Though it's not a relatively new concept, it was tried somewhere in the '70s by the American businessman Donald Trump in New York for his project, Trump Tower. The market was witnessing a slowdown then and everyone was struggling hard to survive and stay afloat in such a situation, he created the buzz around his project and had even managed to convince some high-profile individuals to buy the property." "The basic concept of 'by invitation only' emanates from the branding concept where a corporate desires to market its product to a certain customer profile," says Rohit Gera, Joint Managing Director, Gera Developments. "This may be a particular age group of audience for any lifestyle products. In case of real estate it is generally related to some extra-ordinary or super-luxury offering to a select group of prospective buyer on the basis of their social status, their taste for luxury and decor et al." He further points out that the buyers are generally like-minded people who prefer staying in a well maintained building. "The basis for offering this kind of product generally depends on the location of the project and the ticket-size of the project. It helps to bring in parity in terms of the profile of the customer and at the same time create a luxury quotient for its customers which give them a sense of pride to own such a property," he adds. This trend is here to stay, especially in the context of Pune which has its fair share of high networth individuals (HNIs) who are well read, well travelled and who are exposed to the finer nuances. These are individuals who have wide exposure and can appreciate the designer sensibilities and of course the premium attached to it. One of the key features that a resident looks for in a city like Pune is proximity to his workplace. Therefore, the most important feature of any such super-luxurious project is its location and connectivity. Everything from the location of the project, the size of units, the clientele targeted, the intermediaries involved, and the design of the apartment, are kept most exclusive. Generally, the target audience typically includes corporates such as CEOs, promoters, country heads and others aligning in the same profile. Since these executives travel extensively, they pick a project that has its amenities on par with that of its international counterparts. "These are generally high-end projects that carry a very large tag and are marketable to HNIs. The idea is to keep it by invitation to protect the privacy of these people," says Kaneria. Appealing to a target audience as niche as above, mass advertising doesn't serve the purpose of marketing the project, agree developers. Generally, developers of such projects engage in direct marketing with the likes of fund managers, portfolio managers and investment banking firms that are key decision makers in the purchase of a property of this magnitude. "The developers we represent usually exercise this option. Since the demand for their products is assured and the developers are in a position to pick and choose their occupants in keeping with a certain required occupant profile. It helps a developer by ways of introducing an element of differentiation and exclusivity," says Om Ahuja, CEO - Residential Services, Jones Lang LaSalle India. Ideally, if done carefully, this is a win-win situation for both the developer and the occupants as the developer can command a premium and the customer can choose their neighbours and surrounding in an informed manner. INPUTS: NEHA DANI AND ANURADHA RAMAMIRTHAM

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