A woman stands next to an effigy of the robot Gundam, a Japanese science fiction series, during the 2019 Japan Expo exhibition in Villepinte, near Paris. Picture: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP
A woman stands next to an effigy of the robot Gundam, a Japanese science fiction series, during the 2019 Japan Expo exhibition in Villepinte, near Paris. Picture: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP

For some time, behavioural economics has been the foundation for loyalty programmes and initiatives aiming to drive behavioural change. This is certainly the case for property technology (proptech), a new field of marketing in the property arena, which is based on the premise that humans are social beings driven by motivations aside from money; this is why the gamification of rewards and loyalty programmes works so well to motivate consumers.

Flow is a proptech platform which serves the rental market and rewards tenants for positive behaviours such as paying their rent on time and looking after their homes. Brand manager Carryn Martin says proptech is a growing industry.

“The platform is founded on the fact that consumers have an intrinsic need to receive recognition and reward. It’s based on the same principle that has driven the success of loyalty programmes such as Discovery’s Vitality, which rewards clients for choosing a healthy lifestyle, and FNB’s eBucks, which encourages better banking behaviour,” she says.

In much the same way, Flow, which is available for download on the Apple and Android app stores, uses a proprietary algorithm, understanding the complexity around present bias and achievement and rewarding people for being good tenants.

Every month, tenants can increase their Flow score and earn thousands of points, which are redeemable for rewards such as up to 50% off on electricity, airtime and data. Flow has also partnered with a number of leading SA brands in the lifestyle, entertainment, homeware, fashion and travel space – ultimately thousands of rands in rewards for SA’s growing rental market. Landlords also reap the benefits of early payment, increased cash flow as a result of retaining their best tenants and carefully tended properties, Martin says.

The big take-out

Property technology uses behavioural economics to reward tenants for good behaviour.

“As an industry that is still in its infancy, the focus of proptech currently is on generating and increasing conversation, exposure and trust,” Martin says. “Flow does this by using tools such as social media marketing, meaningful content and partnerships as well as influencers who use and benefit from the app themselves. We’ll soon look to incorporate artificial intelligence in the experience. Word of mouth is also a powerful tool, while technology aids the way this can be implemented for exponential effect. In short, proptech marketing is ultimately about maximising the integration between online, mobile and social marketing to improve the real estate industry,” she says.

Like any new industry, proptech faces its share of challenges. The most significant, Martin believes, is time. “It takes time to research, develop and implement new processes at the best of times –  let alone in an uncharted landscape.  Flow, like other tech companies, is running against the clock while developing technologies and setting the landscape for the future. It’s a big challenge, but very exciting,” she says.