Leaders in commercial real estate, retail and leisure have uncompromisingly analysed the transformation of their industry during two days of MAPIC Digital live – new for 2020, with the physical event in Cannes postponed to 2021. Senior delegates highlighted three major trends to transform successfully their industry: the increasing development of mixed-use spaces, the customer experience, and the digital-physical complementarity.
The two days of MAPIC Digital live brought together more than 2300 international decision-makers from the commercial real estate, retail and leisure sectors. The networking platform proved a great success with 1,272 virtual meetings organised among professionals, demonstrating both the vitality of the sector and the suitability of this forum for professionals’ needs.
On the conference side, the itinerary of 25 live sessions gave the floor to 114 speakers and brought together between 150 and 460 listeners per session who were able to take part in the debate by asking questions using the digital conference service.
“Whether from the UK, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, China, Italy or France, a consensus emerged during the MAPIC Digital debates using analysis of how the industry is evolving. All stakeholders agreed that the real estate and retail sector had rapidly accelerated its transformation into lifestyle and experience destinations. It is crucial to set up a solid collaboration to define the community of uses of tomorrow in the territories – and we hope MAPIC Digital helped to support exactly that,” said Nathalie Depetro, Director of MAPIC.
Francesco Pupillo, director of LeisurUp, the recently established leisure event created by MAPIC and which was the subject of numerous sessions, added “The retail and leisure industry has demonstrated its resilience many times in the past and there is no doubt that once the immediate health crisis is over and we adapt, customers will happily return to physical places. The spectacular rebound in the sector this summer is proof of this. Retail will recover and pivot towards more personal experiences, strengthened by the integration of digital at all levels.”
Mixed-use has now become the new normal for both real estate and retail professionals. Matthijs Storm, CEO of Wereldhave, explained that his company is committed to integrating residential, medical, food & beverage and other sectors into its commercial projects, with a target of 25% mixed-use space in its centres, compared with 10 percent to date.
However, “although single-use spaces are becoming obsolete, we shouldn’t simply pile up different use cases,” says Thierry Cahierre, Redevco’s Managing Director for France. “It is important that any combination of uses must share an interest in being together, so as to create a real community of uses.”
Cristina Santos, MD Property Management, Spain and Portugal, Sonae Sierra shared her conviction of the value of integrating co-working spaces in shopping centres.
More than ever in this period of transformation and economic difficulty, companies must work in a more collaborative mode. For Gérard Gazay, vice-president of the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropole and mayor of Aubagne, “we must not pitch city centres against suburbs but work towards mutually enhancing offers because it is commercial development that brings these two living spaces together.
More radically, the American Winston Fisher, CEO of Area15, a Las Vegas-based retail and leisure complex, says “Don’t focus on what was, ignore the past, don’t try to fix it, create something new”. He is joined in this by Frenchman Philippe Journo, CEO, Compagnie de Phalsbourg, who claims that “the golden years when we spent little and earned a lot are behind us. The past is the past, now we must look to the future and change things.”
Leisure: the customer experience as a focus for ideas
Bricks and mortar retailing today must be able to generate emotions and even provide meaning for consumers: the customer experience takes centre-stage and in this respect, leisure is key. “Entertainment doesn’t dilute the retail experience, it intensifies it,” says Jonathan Doughty, Global Head of Foodservice, Leisure & Placemaking, ECE.
Reinhart Viane, Business Development Director, KCC Entertainment Design, added: “There should be no more boundaries between entertainment, food and beverage, living, working and shopping. Entertainment should be the glue to bind these together. Without doing this shopping centres could make themselves redundant.”
Generally speaking, professionals in the leisure, food & beverage and commercial property sectors stressed the importance of understanding a local market so as to choose the right mix- spelling the end of standardisation.
For Sébastien Vanhoove, Carmila’s Deputy Managing Director, customers have evolved and are now more informed, which is why Carmila offers a more local but also more responsible, innovative and omnichannel offer, and supports brands that are considered innovative.
As for the Food & Beverage sector, “it isn’t just important, it is “mission-critical”,” says Ian Sandford, President, Eurofund Group, stressing that “it’s not just the amount, it’s the variety of the food.”
Contrary to what one might think, digitisation ultimately leads to a more human experience. People are still looking for contact, but their desires have changed. They want authenticity and creativity. Leisure is now an integral part of the shopping experience.
Digital tools are key to establishing a link between retailers and their customers before, during and after the purchase. So it is necessary to play on mutual support rather than conflict.
Thus for Enrique Martinez, CEO, Fnac Darty “a brand like ours has the capacity to transform traffic from digital to physical. This is quite rare and we can use this new power to attract customers back into the physical world”.
This is confirmed by e-commerce heavyweight, CK Chan, head of Tmall and Taobao, Hong Kong and Macau, Alibaba Group, when he says, “In the past, brands needed to open stores to create brand experiences for the customer. Now they can do that online and the audience is much wider.”
“Like the industry, we are learning to be omnichannel with the MAPIC and LeisurUp Digital platform. It was a new challenge for us and we are very proud of its success. We look forward to seeing you in Cannes next year for a digitally enhanced edition of MAPIC but also for a first physical edition of LeisurUp,” concludes Nathalie Depetro.