The Importance of Differentiation


With the explosive growth in adult lifestyle communities across North America, the concept of differentiation has assumed a crucial level of importance. There are broad reasons why individuals chose to move to an adult lifestyle community, but there are also specific reasons. And these specific reasons are turning out to be more important than the broad reasons.

The broad reasons for relocation are usually based on sizing down and cashing out of an existing home that has become too large as the kids grew up, moved out and started families of their own. As such, most people selling a large family home do so to enjoy a leisure lifestyle in a smaller home and have some cash left over after the change.

But, as art historian Aby Warburg noted, “the devil is in the detail”, meaning that when it comes to adult lifestyle communities, it’s the specifics that count.

A move to an adult lifestyle community is generally consummated on the basis of one or more personal interests. For instance, people who have a passion for golf are unlikely to relocate to a community that is predicated on boating amenities and water sports; not unless there were some golf courses nearby and there was an additional strong interest in boating.

The same goes for nature buffs that enjoy hiking and or bird watching. Their choice of adult lifestyle community would likely include proximity to hiking trails and bird sanctuaries in wooded areas.

Builders who want to market adult lifestyle communities should take great care to differentiate their own community from others by emphasizing their own community’s greatest natural assets. It only makes sense that the marketing of a waterfront community is targeted primarily to people with an interest in waterfront living and all that entails, whether it’s boating, fishing, swimming or long walks along the beach. Of course, while targeting the leisure interests of prospects, it’s still important to satisfy all the other demands that potential residents of leisure communities might have, including ready access to commercial amenities, healthcare, entertainment as well as other goods and services necessary to support a happy and fulfilling leisure lifestyle.

The worst thing that can happen to an adult lifestyle community is to have residents that are unhappy, because this tends to be contagious. There are adult lifestyle communities that have a palpable air of misery, wherein many residents are at odds with the community and their neighbors. The prime villain in such communities as that they attracted people who are ill suited to the lifestyle.

Developers of adult lifestyle communities should carefully differentiate their communities according to surrounding amenities. It also helps to conduct some research in advance of opening, particularly in the areas from which the developers hope to draw their prospects. A community located in a rural setting will attract residents that are significantly different than communities based in a small town or even a large urban area, as the interests of the residents will dictate their choice of venue. Similarly, communities that offer a single amenity, such as close proximity to a golf course, need to work harder to ensure that their residents have enough diverse activities to keep them happy.

It is said that birds of a feather flock together. Nowhere is this adage more relevant than in the planning of a successful adult lifestyle community.

Written by Klaus Rohrich on Friday, 18 February 2011

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