Contractor Takes a Consumer Focus

Skanska, the global construction and development company, and IKEA have reintroduced the BoKlok concept of affordable housing to the Finnish market. This decision was based on Skanska’s consumer segmentation strategy, writes Rakennuslehti, the leading construction news journal in Finland.

Consumer focus is a fairly new phenomenon for large construction firms. In 2009 Skanska had 669 employees in residential development, 1.2 percent of their total staff of 55,000 (Source: Annual Report 2009). With the BoKlok concept, Skanska, in collaboration with IKEA, wants to come to terms with consumer demand for affordable housing in the Nordic area.

Skanska has defined a segmentation model for consumer-related concepts, products, and projects. The model has four segments or groups:

1. Trendy

People belonging to this group are interested in lifestyle issues and interior design. They are influenced by the opinions of others, and pay attention to how things look. The home is a means of self-expression. Trendy people prize aesthetics over functionality.

2. Harmonious

These people seek balance in their homes. They ignore other people’s opinions and often take a traditional stance in life.

3. Social

For people in the Social group, the home is a stage for social activity. They love to host dinner parties. The Social type looks for tips and recommendations from their networks.

4. Efficient

The Efficient group consists of people who take a practical view of their homes. They spend less time at home than the others. Aesthetics plays a minor part in their choices unless it has some functional value. Efficient people consider public transport connections when they choose somewhere to live. For them, the home has less symbolic value than for those in the other segments.

When Skanska developed the new BoKlok concept they conducted consumer tests. The 500 people who participated were asked what they actually wanted from a home. The tests included two alternative apartment layouts. Of the attendees, 30 to 40 were involved in small work groups, who designed modifications to the apartments. The result is simple and affordable.

Skanska’s goal is to build homes that are clearly cheaper than the average. In the first low-rise housing block in Vanda, prices should be substantially less than 4000 euros per square meter. The apartments are quite small, from 44.5 to 72 square meters. IKEA will provide the fixed furnishings for the project.

What consumer segments the BoKlok homes will resonate with was not mentioned in the article. I guess Efficient people will be pleased with the rationality of the concept.

Photo: iStockphoto