Dishing social media: Four CRE predictions for 2018 - by Diana Perry

December 22, 2017 - Retail
Diana Perry, Linear
Retail Properties

Post the industry parties, Secret Santas and jingle bell jogs, it’s time to reflect and project CRE trends for 2018. How will our industry adapt to changing needs of the consumer? How are different generations shaping the shopping experience? What kind of influence will social media have on purchasing decisions? All things we need to be asking ourselves. Below are four predictions of my own that I believe we’ll see in 2018 and beyond.

From Etsy Pop to Etsy Shop

Last weekend I was shopping on Newbury Street in Boston and came across an Etsy pop-up shop. The shop consisted of about 11 retailers, each of which had between 5 and 10 feet of display space. It was a mix of products ranging from different types of jewelry to glass blown ornaments, leather products and beautiful hand-crafted shoes. I spoke with the owner of the shoe company, Adelante Shoe Co., and was wowed by the story he told me about how the shoes are made, where they come from and even saw photos of the people that actually made the shoe I was holding. The product was high-end, think Frye but half the price and more unique. The experience I got from this encounter does not even come close to me going online to Frye.com and blindly clicking the checkout button. I liked the product, the owner and story. I believe that more online retailers will be seeking brick and mortar space to showcase their products but will be looking for shared space. I imagine the notion of the “pop-up” will change from temporary to permanent – from pop to shop, where it will be more mainstream in the future to have a store with multiple brands in it. This will change how leases are structured and how we market to retailers to rent our spaces. 

Voice Search Becomes a Game Changer

Remember the days of Ask Jeeves? Well we transitioned to Google and now to accessing information via voice. I think this will continue to evolve and it will become more important to build out SEO appropriately. The problem with voice is that there is only one winner so the content you provide must match up to specific questions thus rewriting your website too. With home systems like the Google Home Mini dropping at $29, we’ll see this in many homes. You may think this is a millennial or baby boomer item but this year even my grandmother wants to get on board. It makes sense too, if the older generations can avoid having to go online and can just talk to a system, it makes things much easier for them. Even retailers are starting to evolve, for example European Wax now allows you to book an appointment via voice on Alexa. 

Personalization or Follow the Leader?

“I went to the Prudential Center over the weekend and I could have sworn Justin Bieber was there,” said my friend. I asked her what he was doing here and she said, “Oh, he wasn’t really, the crowd was for Canada Goose.” At the end of November, Prudential Center landlord, Boston Properties opened a Canada Goose store and its apparently been overflowing with visitors…as you can tell simply by walking the city, just about every other person has one of the jackets. According to the Boston Business Journal, “Canada Goose has been working as a manufacturer for over sixty years but became a retailer only recently. The company launched its first e-commerce site in Canada in 2014, followed by the U.S. in 2015.” Though the brand has a presence in 250 locations across the U.S., there are only three actual Canada Goose stores, located in Chicago, SoHo NYC, and now the Pru. I originally wanted to write about how retailers are getting more personalized and unique but after researching brands like Canada Goose it seems that there is still a generation that wants what everyone else has. If a brand can make a quality product and pay off a few influencers, it has potential to become a must-have product within certain generations. 

Social Media Gets Product Specific 

I recently got married and had a MyRegistry account which aggregates items from across the web and bricks and mortar. My husband added sheets to the registry from a brand called, Parachute. When I asked him about the choice he said he heard they were really comfy and great quality. However, when we received the sheets they were the scratchiest most uncomfortable sheets I’d ever slept in. When I asked him why he choose them he said he saw them on Instagram. Because brands are still catching on to Facebook and Instagram advertising, there is a glorified aura around the products being marketed to us on these mediums. If we see a product over and over in a category that isn’t first nature to us, we think it’s made for us. The buy now buttons have also been added somewhat recently onto Instagram and now you can tag products and have product pages, making it very easy for us to shop in a place where we already spends so much of our time. We can now tag our shopping centers and specific spaces for lease as a “product” on social media under the category “Shop” and create an entire collection, all with links back to our website’s individual property pages. I foresee more owners, developers and brokers marketing their space as “products” on social media.  

Fun Fact: Google had to squash Burger King because at the end of their commercial it said “hey Google, what is a whopper” – Lesson is utilize voice search but don’t take advantage.

Diana Perry is VP - marketing and social media at Linear Retail Properties, Burlington, Mass. 

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