Be a hero on the road to net zero

You may have heard we hosted the latest of our now firmly established EPM (Effective Property Marketing) events earlier in the summer. The topic this time was sustainability, specifically in relation to the property industry and its journey towards the 2050 carbon net zero deadline. Sustainability is now a broad and well-understood term in any commercial context of course; we don’t intend to educate our professional network about the ethical benefits of being a more sustainable business. But as the leading marketing and technology business in the property sector and the UK pioneers of the practice of growth marketing in the industry, we feel a degree of responsibility to educate our industry leaders about the growth opportunities that the journey to net zero can offer any property related business looking to maximise the value of their customers and ultimately accelerate growth. 

At Space & Time we have made significant strides into being a more sustainable business in everything we do, as regards social as well as environmental considerations – from our approach to staff welfare, our values, even our media planning. In recent years this has been manifest in a broad range of policies and initiatives (switching to glass milk bottles; offering staff access to the Cycle2Work scheme; working with a 100% recycled, carbon-neutral DM provider), however we’ve lacked a cohesive strategy and a means of benchmarking our performance. For this reason we recently became members of the Ad Net Zero scheme and have rolled out a raft of ESG initiatives to the business via our award-winning Space Academy training programme. Is it enough and are we yet where we intend to be? Of-course not; for us as for every other business out there this is a journey and there is always more to do. That’s exactly the way we are trying to evolve our business to benefit our customers, i.e. our amazing clients across the property industry. Ensuring this continues to have the level of attention it deserves is an important component of my role as the leader of our business.  

The objective of a further series of EPM events focussing on sustainability will be to consider this issue from a consumer perspective, helping our clients in the first instance to give the matter of sustainability the attention it deserves, but also to understand the customer sentiment towards it and the behavioural and emotional triggers that motivates homebuyers to act. There’s already a commercial imperative to act now in order to not be found wanting come 2050, and every builder has undoubtedly already embarked on that journey. But as the efforts made in this direction take a more substantial role in the public discourse over the coming months and years, understanding how best to leverage investment into sustainability for the purposes of growth marketing, and reflecting on how consumers will engage most meaningfully with this sort of messaging will become ever more important.  

In the research we undertook we saw significant intent from consumers across the UK, and across all affordability brackets, with 65% of respondents confirming that sustainability was an important factor in their decision making when buying a new home, and 62% indicating they would be willing to pay more for a new home built using sustainable methods. At first glance these are compelling numbers to ‘sellers’ in this instance, but there is a complex underlying dichotomy between a consumer’s willingness to act and their understanding of why to act, and of the implications of not doing so. 59% said they were not aware of upcoming legislative changes related to the efficiencies of their homes and those who were aware were significantly more likely to pay a premium for a sustainable home than were those who were not aware. Digging slightly further we also found that when it comes to communicating with potential homebuyers, irrespective of demographic, consumers were considerably more likely to respond to advertising that mentioned sustainability, be it through sustainable features or build methods or the material saving of purchasing a sustainable, i.e. a new home, vs a less sustainable one. There were also many idiosyncratic traits displayed by our respondents, showing that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to marketing communications and customer acquisition is unlikely to be successful. Although a major issue for all of us, this is far from a black and white issue with which we all engage in an homogenised way; for this reason it will doubtless be the locus of differentiated messaging, automation and personalisation in the coming years. A tailored approach underpinned by customer insight is a huge lever ready to pull if the data signals and technology infrastructure are in place in your organisation. 

The signals consumers betray concerning their attitudes towards sustainability, amongst a plethora of others that were published in our research, begin to shine light on the strategic opportunity for all of us. As an industry we have a requirement to educate home buyers about exactly what sustainability means in the context of their buying journey and the implications, both ethical and financial, of not keeping it front of mind. We also know the way in which we communicate needs to be customised to ensure we are dialling into consumer motivations and maximising the commercial opportunity. Why? The clear final consideration is that the intent exists for home buyers across the UK to be receptive to a more sustainable product, brand and experience.  

Space & Time, being a business that prides itself on delivering outcomes beyond those a conventional agency might provide, is interested in a broader range of commercial considerations than simply generating enquiries for sales teams to nurture through to sale in an incredibly competitive marketplace. With the growing prominence that sustainable messaging will accrue over the coming months the key measures for success, aside from the ethical benefits which are undoubtedly profound and clear, need to be ROI and growth. This focus on commercial outcomes is what we’ve built our business on, and the first step to creating value from this as 2050 begins to loom on the horizon, is to start with these solid commercial foundations. In order to communicate a brand’s sustainable considerations effectively, messaging and media alike need to be authentic; comms needs to convey the truths and values of a business in this space, so that we’re not just maximising your marketing investment, we are maximising the value of your customers and driving growth for your business. This can involve structural and cultural adjustments in your organisation, creating a consistent ethos throughout every department and silo that exists in your business so that the homebuyer ultimately ‘buys in’.  

To help you on this journey, we will be hosting a number of events and publishing a series of content in the coming weeks and months, helping to present solutions to the strategic opportunity we believe exists. Please do register with the details provided to stay informed.  

*if you wish to see the research in full please contact [email protected]. If you wish to speak directly with Chris, please feel free to contact him on one of the below methods:  

Email: [email protected] 


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