Purpose Over Experience: What Consumers are Telling Retail Landlords on Social Media

by Carrie Bobb & Emily Jones

Consumers are telling us what they want from our projects. If we desire to deliver an authentic experience for the community to enjoy, we should listen to what those consumers are saying. This valuable information should, without a doubt, be used for retail leasing.

Below are some of our findings through practicing social listening across our industry on social media and why it is valuable information for our leasing teams:

PURPOSE IS GREATER THAN EXPERIENCE

For the past decade, we have had experiential retail driven into everything we lease. The principle still applies and it is extremely important. But a brand’s purpose is now of equal or greater importance to consumers than the experience.

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Retail Trends Report, “An authentic purpose is now as important as digital to the next generation of customers. Brands that have a cause have more meaning in the eyes of consumers. As retailers start putting purpose at the core of their business, they will have to rethink what they stand for and define the commercial model required to deliver it.”[1]

If we want to attract and lease space to meaningful, relevant brands, we need to meet them where they meet their customers. Landlord companies are a brand too. And the more we adapt and align with retailers, the more likely we will collaborate and do business together.

Accenture’s report From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose-Led Brand, included, “Consumers’ expectations that brands align with their personal values is a challenge for companies that underestimated the bottom-line impact of neglecting to stand for something bigger than what they sell. Or falsely believed they could avoid taking a position on hot-button issues…the opportunity lies in building more authentic and profitable relationships with customers. Meaningful relationships that shift the customer dialogue from ‘give ME what I want’ to ‘support the ideals WE believe in.’”[2]

ENGAGEMENT RATE MATTERS MORE THAN THE NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS.

Having a strong engagement rate with the right audience is more valuable than having more followers who are not the core consumer base.

Engagement rates matter A LOT to retailers. If we can show retailers we have a strong following of their core customer and they are actively engaged on the property, it matters for leasing. It is a proof source that their audience is already vested.

PEOPLE CARE ABOUT COMMUNITY PROPERTIES AND ARE SEEKING OUT OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE.

In researching various retail projects and the different comments people are making, people want to be part of creating something great in their community. They genuinely care about the places and businesses in their neighborhoods and have come out strong for the businesses they love.

People are emotionally connected to their favorite stores and restaurants, now more than ever, and they want to be part of helping them be successful. Consumers have a vested interest in the places and properties as much as the brands – if not more, in some cases. The properties where they meet their friends and create memories are deeply meaningful when the property engages back.

Here is one example: Often times people leave comments about the different types of retailers or restaurants they would like to see be part of the project without ever being prompted. This is great information to pull together and turn into a report to present to potential tenants. It shows them their customer is already in the market. 

MANAGING SOCIAL MEDIA POORLY IS WORSE THAN NOT DOING IT AT ALL.

Scott Stratten, the creator of the Brand Pulse principle, believes there is no neutral position between a brand and a consumer. Each interaction either increases or reduces a person’s affinity for the brand.

“Increased frequency doesn’t imperil your success in social media marketing. Instead, your success is mitigated every time you post something mediocre, or worse.” Posts that resonate strongly with your audience are rewarded. Lame posts are hidden.

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Scott Stratten’s Brand Pulse Concept

“If you don’t have something worthwhile to say, DON’T SAY IT. When you decide to push publish anyway, you are digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole with the social media algorithms,” wrote Jay Baer on his blog about the Brand Pulse theory.[3]

This is important when considering the different audiences – the community visiting and experiencing the project, its core customer, as well as prospective tenants.

Social media and social shopping are impacting our purchasing decisions. It’s changed the way people are consuming everything – from retail to news to staying connected with friends. It’s at our fingertips. The phone is in our hand at all times. The access is powerful.

To learn more about social media analytics, you can check out our blog on How to Read Instagram Insights.

Carrie and Emily nerd out on consumer behavior analytics and are experts at driving revenue for retail properties through digital and brick and mortar leasing strategies. They have each been leasing retail for 17 years and have leased some of the most notable projects in Southern California.

They have executed transactions with retailers such as SoulCycle, Sephora, drybar, Fox Restaurant Concepts, Burger Lounge, Casero Taqueria, Mendocino Farms, Bird Rock Coffee and several others.


[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/retail-trends.html?fbclid=IwAR0MOpdMO2srbMfFmCRX6n43z9kloGs7bQt_XDLN_B8tsBv9LnlXmoQDv64#

[2] https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/thought-leadership-assets/pdf/accenture-competitiveagility-gcpr-pov.pdf

[3] https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/the-truth-about-how-often-to-post-in-social-media/