media update’s Nicole van Wyk chats to Carryn Martin, FLOW's newly appointed brand manager, about proptech, the role of behavioural economics in the real estate market and what the future holds for proptech.

1. What is proptech?

Proptech is ushering a new era in the digital transformation of the property industry. Like with many ‘disruptors’ and revolutionaries/revolutionary ideas (think co-working, Netflix, 4IR, Airbnb, crowd-funding, etc.), it challenges the way we use, transact and interact with a particular good or medium affected by technology.

In this instance, proptech is a collective term describing innovative technology employed and developed to improve the property industry.

2. As the brand manager at FLOW, what is your role?

Being a start-up, it’s all hands on deck. My role, as typical with brand managers, is centred around how users perceive the brand. I oversee creative, advertising and growth strategies, and all customer-facing elements ensuring consistency and alignment.

Over and above shaping the outward image of the company, users need to feel comfortable and safe as well as engaged when interacting with the brand. My role is to develop that trust, create and implement strategies to encourage engagement and to make FLOW a brand that resonates with its target market.

I develop and manage meaningful partnerships with companies and brands that are relevant to our users — the millennial market.

3. Who is FLOW aimed at?

FLOW has seen a gap in the market and is largely focussed on a very specific subset of people: millennial residential property renters. The demand for rentals among millennials is on the increase, and it’s easy to see why.

The Deloitte 2018 Millennial Survey of over 10 000 people born between 1983 and 1994  shows that freedom and flexibility are key workplace priorities for this age group. But this could be extended to the world of property, too. Because of this desire to have more freedom, millennials tend to settle down [much] later and want a more transient lifestyle, which means they’re renting rather than buying.

Property prices have also increased across the board, making home ownership increasingly unaffordable for younger generations. Millennials have become increasingly familiar with using technology to meet their needs — and yet, when it comes to renting an apartment or a house, the entire rental process is still very manual; it lacks transparency; and clear communication while leasing and during a lease.

FLOW is setting out to drive the digital innovation that is desperately needed within the rental market.

4. A large part of FLOW relies on behavioural economics. Tell us a bit more about how this works

Behavioural economics has been a buzzword for quite some time now, predominantly in the rewards and loyalty programmes space, which aims to encourage and change behaviour through offerings of acknowledgment and/or rewards.

Much like Vitality encourages healthier and more active behaviour, and eBucks encourages better banking behaviour, FLOW employs behavioural economics to encourage a positive change in behaviour that relates to customers’ biggest expense item — their rent.

Behavioural economics proves that we are social beings driven by things other than money, hence the gamification of rewards and loyalty, which ties into our intrinsic need/motivation to achieve or receive recognition and reward.

FLOW models this and uses a proprietary algorithm understanding the complexity around present-bias and achievement, rewarding people for being good tenants.

5. How long did it take for proptech to gain traction in both the local and global markets?

Globally, the proptech industry took off fast and hard with companies like Zillow and Opendoor. South Africa followed suit shortly after.. In 2017, Venture Capitalist’s put $12.6 billion into the proptech sector, with WeWork and Compass leading in terms of funds raised. Softbank invested $4.4 billion in WeWork and $450 million in Compass. United States-based real estate tech firms comprised nearly $6.5 billion (or 52%) of the venture capital funding raised in 2017.

Proptech locally is in an exciting space, with a handful of startups (both in commercial and residential sectors) pioneering. The industry is still very young, a baby in fact, with endless potential and room for growth and development. We are blessed with brilliant minds and passionate innovators in this country and I, for one, am excited to see what the sector will bring to South Africa.

6. Considering how new proptech is, do you think there is opportunity for growth in the local proptech marketing space? What are some of the challenges marketers face?

With the local proptech industry being in its infant stage, users interacting and transacting this way is all new. This means that marketing, analysis and consumer insights are drawn from smaller samples than that of more mature industries.

That said, the issue of ‘legacy’ often faced in marketing is minimal when it comes to marketing in proptech. Growth is inevitable and necessary in this industry for exactly that — research, testing, developing innovative strategies for products and services that up until this point didn’t exist — and defining new KPIs for them.

Check out this video about the FLOW app to gain a better understanding of how behavioural economics is at play. 

For more information, visit You can also follow FLOW on Facebook or on Twitter. 

Is there room for behavioural economics in marketing strategies today? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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