To many home-buyers and builders alike, the “green home” movement is still a little out-there, a little avant-garde. Many home-buyers may love the idea of sustainable living – some more than others – but when it comes to putting their cash and their future on the line, traditional criteria like price, size, and location remain the most important factors in whether or not they buy.
Though the green home movement’s aim is admirable, its reach simply isn’t great enough to direct branding initiatives – in other words, green homes aren’t yet compelling enough to generate the big bucks.
But in Windermere, Florida, builder KB Homes has decided to go out on a limb. They’re marketing the first really main-stream brand-name eco-friendly hous.
Who’s the brand-name? None other than home-making maven (ha!) Martha Stewart herself. The partnership itself isn’t new – Martha has been putting her stamp of approval on KB Homes for about six years now, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is, however, the first community that’s put any emphasis on “green features”, and in many ways it’s a gamble.
The Florida real estate market has been hit pretty hard by the housing crisis, and it’s uncertain whether buyers in the area will be willing to spring for eco-friendly features when most of Martha’s houses come with a price-tag of at least $200,000. KB Homes seems pretty aware of this, since they’ve made many of the more ecologically-responsible features optional or add-ons.
It’s also a bit uncertain how closely the name “Martha Stewart” resonates with “save the earth through green technology!” After all, Martha’s best-known corporate partnership was with Target. And while most of us adore Target’s glorious convenience and snappy, stylish ad campaigns, it doesn’t exactly scream, “changing the world”.
We hope that KB Homes plays their marketing cards right, because really there’s a lot of potential here. For as much as Martha stands for “the good (suburban) life”, she’s also a symbol of steely feminism and constant reinvention. She can turn a pre-used object into a work of craft-art, and she can make prison-time look gritty-yet-glam. You have to dig a little to tie these things to ecological innovation – but the connection is definitely there, and hopefully Florida home-buyers will see it.