Buying the Brand

Creating a magic kingdom?

March 1, 2008

KB Home is banking on Mickey Mouse to help give new-home sales a boost. KB in January launched a partnership with Walt Disney Co. that will allow it to feature Disney home décor options — including furniture, flooring, window treatments, and lighting — in KB Home Studios nationwide.

The Los Angeles–based builder partnered with Martha Stewart about two years ago to offer Stewart designed homes in select communities, a move KB says has upped sales and the amount buyers spend on home options. Now, it’s hoping its Disney alliance will give it the same magic.

Wendy Marlett, KB Home senior vice president of sales and marketing, says that nearly 60 percent of KB home buyers are families with children. “Disney is a giant global brand that has mass appeal,” Marlett says. “[This partnership] can really help KB generate excitement, drive traffic to our communities, and build our brand.”

KB’s partnerships are a closely watched experiment in branding within the housing industry, says Maxine Lauer, president of Sphere Trending, a Waterford, Mich.–based trend consulting company. “Co-branding among builders is in its infancy, and KB is setting a standard that will continue to grow. It’s more challenging than ever to stand out in the crowd with buyers, and the name recognition and credibility from another brand can help add more value to a home.”

Other partnerships have been more region ally based. In recent years, Pulte Homes teamed with certified master chef Gustav Mauler to offer high-tech kitchen upgrades in Las Vegas. North Carolina–based St. Lawrence Homes partnered with John Deere to provide landscaping near Durham, N.C.

So far, KB and Martha Stewart Living Omni media Inc. have collaborated on nine communities, with plans for more. The homes, averaging in the $300,000 range, are modeled after Stewart’s own homes in Connecticut, New York, and Maine. Some popular options include large kitchens featuring over sized islands; craftsmanship touches like wainscoting and beadboard; built-in bookshelves; and window seating. KB has even extended the Stewart brand to target single male home buyers with a bachelor pad–style townhome.

KB-Martha Stewart Properties

  1. Cary, N.C.: Twin Lakes
  2. Fairburn, Ga.: Hampton Oaks
  3. Perris, Calif.: Olive Grove
  4. Katy, Texas: WoodCreek Reserve
  5. Woodstock, Ga.: Wynchase
  6. Lancaster, Calif.: Terreno Vista
  7. Denver: Stapleton
  8. Raleigh, N.C.: Wynbrooke
  9. Ormond Beach, Fla.: Deer Creek