Online agent Purplebricks
has launched a new TV advertising campaign leading some to suspect it is planning
significant changes to its pricing model.
Since launch Purplebricks has
vociferously promoted the fact that it uses fixed fee pricing rather than charging
commission. This has been underlined most recently by its ‘Commisery’ themed TV
advertising, suggesting house sellers who use commission-based agents are dissatisfied
with the experience.
However, the company’s
newest TV advertising campaign has adopted a new direction: Using the headline ‘You’ll
Be Totally Sold’ – and apparently using real customer reviews presented by
animated characters – it switches the emphasis towards customer service rather
than just cost.
Gemma Schmid, Head of Brand Marketing and Communications at Purplebricks, said: “Commisery has catapulted Purplebricks into the estate agency mainstream over the last three years and made us famous for challenging the outdated commission model. The Purplebricks brand is now more recognised than any other brand in the property sector, and is selling more homes than any other estate agent. The next stage of our growth is to champion the positive experience of our customers. If home-sellers have any doubts about the quality of our service, the testimony of our customers speaks for itself.”
Many will wonder whether
this new direction for Purplebricks’ TV advertising is just marketing spin or
reveals – perhaps inadvertently – that the company is distancing itself from
opposition to commission-based selling in preparation for a new pricing model
of its own.
In recent years some estate agency experts have suggested that upfront, fixed fee pricing is not viable in the industry as it generates insufficient income to provide the level of service house sellers expect – and that customers are becoming increasingly sceptical about paying upfront sale or no sale. Just last month, a report from analysts at UBS recommended that Purplebricks needs to change its pricing model if it is to achieve the share of the marketing it is targeting.