Dobrozem Land Market: development of the product, its strategy, design system, communication, and the 360° launch
Before June 2021, the Ukrainian land market was closed, as the legal entities and individuals were legally prohibited from selling land. In fact, people could ‘sell’ it only through semi-legal schemes.
The reform of the market and preparations for its opening began as early as March 2020. In September of the same year, a customer approached us with a view to become the first to provide people with an intelligible tool to buy and sell land.
Nothing of the sort had been done in the market before because the market didn't exist in the first place. There was only chaos, corruption, people's distrust, and a total lack of understanding of what had to be sold, to whom, and how.
We needed to streamline and digitize the entire process from the ground up and create a simple and user-friendly tool for selling and purchasing land.
The client approached us with a vision, and we had to check if the idea could be turned into an actual product concept and if people wanted such a product in the first place.
Therefore, we went through all four product development stages:
In Ukraine, the land market is an incomprehensible and complicated industry with many grey areas and legal nuances. Therefore, we took a deep dive into how the market was structured and its problems and processes to test our product hypotheses with a full understanding of the situation.
We discovered what an emphyteusis and a cadastral registry were, the difference between a tillage and a meadow, how they affected land value, and why the Chinese wouldn't buy all the land in Ukraine. All that enabled us to crash test our hypotheses and pick the most viable ones with the client.
This is the methodology we used for target audience studies and product testing among potential consumers to find out if we really tackle their problems.
We conducted over 40 in-depth interviews among three main segments of our target audience:
During the interviews and the target audience researches we tested many hypotheses and discovered a lot of insights:
Village and small city residents hold off on selling their land, especially online, unless it yields enough money for a major purchase, like a car.
‘Look, so I have 4 ha of land. I don't know how much I can ask for it. But my grandson needs a flat in the city to have somewhere to sleep at least. I will sell it if it makes me enough money to get him a room and buy myself some medications. Otherwise, I won't even think about it.’
The primary problem of those selling land is the complexity and speculative nature of the land market.
The land share owners have no understanding of their assets' fair value, and farmers are reluctant to find it out.
‘My grandma just got screwed over. Just imagine: while we were out in the vegetable garden, the farmer's reps waited it out until she was home alone and then showed up and gave her a seven-year lease contract at a rock-bottom rate. And you can prove any foul play here — she signed it herself!’
Therefore, the product needed features to enable a fair appraisal of the land's value and then monitor it to find the best offers and subsequently sell it.
Buyers have it all figured out as it is! They have streamlined land search processes, scouts to find and check the land lots, and work with tried and trusted local lawyers. But it works within the boundaries of the regions where they are located. When they go beyond, problems start arising when it comes to finding land and checking it — both in legal terms and in terms of its suitability for agricultural use. Also, you can't find all this information in one place.
Buyers' main problem was finding new land, checking it, and getting support during its purchase.
‘In Poltava, everything's easy: I have a reliable lawyer who works across the region, quickly sorting out everything. But now I need to buy 100 ha in Western Ukraine, and it's a problem. There is much good land, but it needs to be checked.’
Therefore, our product needed to provide all necessary information for primary land selection through integration with various databases.
To those who are into investing, even such a simple instrument as shares can prove complicated to use in Ukraine as it is, and signing physical paperwork to buy land and looking for a renter inspires sheer terror. Therefore, we developed a separate product for them.
‘I want it to be as easy as a deposit in an online bank — you top it up, get a profit margin estimate, sign the paperwork online and start earning.’
Product conceptualization & User Flow
After the studies were completed, the product's development began. We made a point of developing its logic and features in detail: everything from registration and ID verification to closing deals and even leasing the land.
As a result, we got a concept for the product which would enable land share owners to sell their assets safely and at the best price and buyers to find the best land lot for their needs and buy it even outside their region.
Having created the product, we began working on its brand.
‘I would sell my land if it could earn me 120,000 – 150,000 hryvnias, so we could buy a flat for my grandson somewhere in our regional centre. I would gladly sell it to someone willing to pay this much. But I fear I could be tricked out of my land or, even worse, sell it to some Chinese’.
All respondents feared being double-crossed and falling for machinations of any kind, lacking someone who could humanly help them sell/buy land.
Yes, it's as easy as humanly helping people. We made it our goal to make the land market transparent and understandable. After all, it's a win for everyone — regular folks, farmers, and agriculture businesses alike.
The service's name had to encompass all of that. Like, hear it once, and you know that this is the place for good people to sell and buy land. This is how the simple, honest, and humanly Dobrozem (Ukrainian for Good Land) came to be.
And then we came up with the kindest tag line ever:
Also, we had a reason to go with a kind and welcoming design that is not exactly characteristic of the agricultural market.
Our goal was to overcome people's distrust of transactions involving land. As a result, we got an intelligible and multifunctional design system.
That's how the design system was implemented. Its design elements adapt to meadia of any format and to communication messages of different lengths.
Our communication didn't have to persuade people to sell their land — this is what the product would do.
Land sellers' main problem was the complexity and speculative nature of the land market. People that owned land shares were unaware of their actual value. Also, village and small city residents preferred to hold on to their land.
From this, we inferred that the primary obstacle was people not knowing the accurate price of their land and fearing to make a blunder and sell it at a rock bottom price.
Therefore, we formulated our communication's message as follows:
Then, we planned a 360° campaign on the TV, the Internet, the radio, and newspapers. And don't forget performance marketing.
First, we divided our audience into city and village residents.
Village dwellers became our priority. We reached them via TV, regional radio, and advertising in local newspapers. For city residents, the Internet was the primary channel, including YouTube, social media, and news outlets.
Overall, our marketing toolkit was as follows:
We filmed a bunch of welcoming videos to encourage potential sellers to visit the Dobrozem website and check how much their land was worth.
From the original 15-second videos, we made 6-second cuts for re-targeting. Shorter run time didn't affect the amount of kindness they exuded, though.
When your audience is 70% village residents, newspaper ads are strikingly efficient, even if seemingly outdated as a medium.
This is what the banners targeting city residents looked like.
Our performance marketing was divided into three phases: two test periods, the big launch, and optimization. Having two test periods enabled us to pick the best channels, messages, and creatives in terms of cost-efficiency and then scale them for the big launch. For the full-fledged launch, we wanted only the highest-performing creatives, channels, and messages.
Agents of Dobrozem
As noted above, most of our audience is over 60 years old and not exactly good with techy things. Advertising alone will not suffice to engage them because they need help to use our digital product.
Therefore, together with our client, we decided to involve the Agents of Dobrozem — representatives of the service in small localities, who, like a cherished grandson or son, will help older people get the hang of the platform and register there.
Director — Yuri Petruk
director — Ihnas Yoninas
DoP — Denys Lushchyk
2nd DoP — Serhii Korniienko
CEO — Ivan Krutous
executive producer — Dariia Volhina
line producer — Evelina Bialaia
assistant producer — Valeriia Havrylova
production manager — Oleksii Holubenko
art department — Illia Isupov
stylist — Dina Holubieva
casting — Easy Casting
editing director / playback — Andrii Peretrutov
post production — Camarados
sound director — Oleksandr Pustarnakov
color correction — Dima Vasylenko