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The Dirty Truth About Community Washing in Coliving

Let's talk about the dangers of 'Community Washing' in your coliving brand. (And, no, I don't mean communal laundry.)

So, you're familiar with Greenwashing, right? Greenwashing is a marketing strategy used by companies to promote their products as environmentally friendly and sustainable when in reality, they are not. It's a sneaky tactic that involves exaggerating or even lying about a product's eco-friendliness to mislead consumers.

These companies know that many people are more likely to buy a product if they see the words 'recyclable' and 'earth-friendly.' Unfortunately, greenwashing is all too common, making it challenging for buyers to discern the genuinely eco-friendly products from those that are just trying to appear that way.

Well, we see coliving brands using this same tactic in what I call, 'Community Washing.'

What is Community Washing?

Community Washing is a marketing tactic used by some coliving brands to attract residents through the promise of community, without actually doing the necessary work to create one.

For example, add the word 'community' to your branding and suddenly you're able to increase the price of your houseshare or apartment complex without doing anything else.

So, why is this so harmful?

Obviously, it's damaging to the industry as a whole. Users try out 'coliving', have a poor experience and are then hesitant to try it again.

But, it's also incredibly damaging to you as a coliving brand. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. It decreases the value of your brand.

If you're using 'community' as a perk in your marketing and aren't backing it up with a solid community building strategy, this most often leads to disappointment and negative reviews. Ultimately, you're harming the reputation of your brand in the long run.

2. It's not sustainable.

While using "community" as a buzzword might help fill rooms in the short term, it's not a sustainable strategy for building a successful coliving brand. Without a strong community-building strategy, a coliving brand won't be able to retain residents or generate positive word-of-mouth.

3. It undermines user trust.

When coliving operators make promises about community-building and fail to deliver, they erode the trust of their residents. This can lead to lower occupancy rates, and a damaged reputation in the industry.

4. It fails to address real community needs.

To truly build a thriving community, coliving operators need to invest in creating meaningful connections, fostering shared experiences, and addressing the real needs of their residents. Community washing fails to do any of these things, leaving residents feeling disappointed and disconnected.

The Community Washing Problem:

Now, the problem is, Community Washing isn't just some evil ploy that operators use to intentionally mislead their users.

Often, it's accidental.

A lot of well-meaning coliving spaces simply don't know what a community-building strategy looks like. There's more to community-building than putting a group of people together in hopes that they connect.

There are clear steps that you can take to build, enhance and structure your community so it's able to thrive. Things like, defining your event structure, developing feedback loops, integrating key technology, working through customer journey exercises, conducting customer experience audits, and more.

Community Washing is a growing and problematic trend in the coliving industry. In the short-term, throwing around the word 'community' may help a space to fill rooms, but if those community promises aren't delivered, the short term gains won't compensate for the long-term effects of damaging the brand.

Great coliving brands know this.

Not-so-great brands will figure it out before too long.

The Community Washing Solution:

Do you want to future-proof your coliving brand?

The single best thing you can do is to implement a proven customer experience and community-building strategy that works.

As a coliving consultant, I specialize in creating personalized strategies for the world's top coliving brands. If you'd like to meet and see how we can take your coliving space to the next level, book a $50 Mini-Strategy Session here to get started.

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