REA Group seeks to cement lead in digital property market
By Anushia Kandasivam April 6, 2018
- Reinvesting in itself will help the company grow various markets
- Mobile and desktop audience both growing steadily
REA Group, owner and operator of iProperty.com.my, officially opened its new state-of-the-art office in Malaysia, signalling the Group’s commitment and confidence in the property industry in Malaysia and Southeast Asia (SEA).
The new Kuala Lumpur office is the third in a series of state-of-the-art offices opened by REA Group across Asia over the last six months, after Hong Kong and Indonesia. iProperty Group, which was acquired by REA Group in 2016, is now known as REA Group Asia, reflecting its membership in the global property portal group that spans 11 countries.
REA Group Asia chief executive officer Henry Ruiz (pic, above) says given that SEA is the world’s fastest growing property market with more than a million property transactions every year, the digital company’s investment into Asia is part of its long-term global growth strategy.
“REA Group’s expansion into Asia gives us the opportunity to help re-imagine how people find their next property through the power of digital devices, such as the mobile phone,” he says.
REA Group’s underlying purpose is to change the way people experience property. Ruiz says that its global experience and network is focused on this purpose.
“We want to do that in a practical way to help people find the property of their dreams. We see keeping everyone connected to what is happening in the property market as an opportunity.”
Investing in itself
According to Ruiz, REA Group is leveraging on and harnessing its global insights to drive growth and customer engagement. Its global property network allows consumers to search for properties in countries all over the world and also helps encourage foreign investment in this sense.
The Group is also leveraging on its relationship with its global sales force and its technology to build trust. “One of the key customer insights is ensuring the property you’re looking is real, still for sale and represented by a reputable professional,” explains Ruiz.
In terms of competition, REA Group is focusing on its own game rather than looking at competitors for insights or innovation. Ruiz explains that while the best focus is to look at other market leaders, it is often the company’s own brands that are leaders in other markets (other than Malaysia).
“When you’re in a strong number one position, your opportunity to reinvest into your own product just increases over time.”
Because REA Group’s brands in other markets are at strong number one positions and produce a lot more revenue than iProperty.com.my, for example, there is a huge opportunity to invest into Malaysia to an extent that will allow the Malaysian brand to make up to five years’ worth of progress now, he says.
Applying experience for growth
iProperty.com.my is the leading property portal in Malaysia; it is accessed through web and its app that was launched last year. Because of consumer behaviour unique to the property market where people engaging with properties have a high interest in viewing photos and videos of the properties in the largest format possible, REA Group has been able to grow its mobile audience concurrently with its desktop audience across all its brands.
“That's been a real blessing for us in the sense that we're good at digital and mobile, but we equally understand the importance of the large screen, as well as print and other media that plays in the property industry,” says Ruiz.
iProperty.com.my has seen an average eight million desktop and mobile web visits over the past six months from September 2017 to February this year (there were 8.88 million visits in February itself). The number of visits has grown 1.6 times compared to the platform’s closest competitor PropertyGuru.
Interestingly, iProperty.com.sg is the second most popular property portal in Singapore behind PropertyGuru. Ruiz points out that the portal was at the number four position about 12 months ago but is now a “very strong number two” and is the fastest growing property site in Singapore in that sense.
While Ruiz says there is a plan to grow iProperty.com.sg into the leading property portal in Singapore, he declined to reveal details of the plan. He did say that REA Group will apply learnings and experience from its other markets, which is an advantage it has over some of its competitors.
“We have a footprint even beyond Asian markets where we’ve been for 20 years. That comes with a lot of insight, learning and technology. The starting premise [of the plan] is to chase down what’s directly in front of us,” he says.
REA Group Singapore & Malaysia CEO Haresh Khoobchandani says that though the Group has strong and credible competitors in the market, it has a long-term view and it is the only one in the market to offer a global platform to customers.
“That’s important, especially in a multinational place like Singapore. That’s something really valuable.”
Ruiz also adds that though Singapore is the most valuable property marketplace in SEA, there is enormous opportunity for this to change, considering the trajectory of Asia across all the other markets REA Group is in.
“We’re not here for a six-month win or one-year win. We’re here for a 10-year win. We’re in for the long haul.”