Last week, Future Food’s Managing Director, Francis Loughran joined a group of industry experts in Bangkok to speak at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ event, RECon Asia Pacific. RECon is the largest global gathering of real estate professionals under one roof, with more than a thousand of the world’s leading developers, owners, retailers and more attending the three day event.
Standing alongside Dennis Wong, General Manager of Retail Projects Leasing at LendLease Sydney and Eric Dee, Managing Director of Foodee Global Concepts Manila, the group presented on the topic ‘Food is the Future: How Customer-Centric Hospitality Maximises Sales and Asset Value’. We’ve put together a brief summary of what Francis touched on during the talk and share some of his key insights into the power of food in retail centers today.
With e-commerce growing at a rapid rate, bricks-and-mortar locations are strategising on ways to remain relevant in a world where customers can access almost anything online. The shopping center's retail offer has to compete for spend with shoppers enjoying buying comparable items from the comfort of their own home and having them delivered for free, on a day that suits them. They can also research the products they are investing in, read reviews online and assess their purchase leading to a more conscientious buying environment – a key component of the modern customer’s psychology. They want to know they’re getting the right product, of high quality at the right price and online retail allows them to do this.
What online retail does not allow a customer to have is an immersive experience. There’s no sense of place to be felt, no eye-opening design to see, no smells to surround your senses with and no social contact with hospitable staff or friends and family. This is where bricks-and-mortar retail and more specifically, food and hospitality in bricks-and-mortar retail, can create a point of difference to online by providing customers with an experience they want to be a part of and come back for time and time again. Because of this desire for wonderment, food and hospitality masterplans are becoming a key a component of retail centre business strategies around the world with more people visiting centres for the experience the food and beverage offer brings and then spending on retail while they are there.
The 8 Key Insights to Take Home from RECon Asia Pacific
- Food and Hospitality is the one retail category that offers a mall a genuine and sustainable Point of Difference.
- Hospitality is Entertainment – We’re all social animals and yearn to connect. Interaction and engagement are essential for professional hospitality and luxury experiences.
- 73% of shoppers regard shopping as a leisure activity with friends and family
- The Mall Advantage - Just as television never killed cinemas, nor will online shopping kill malls. Mall developers will ramp up the physical buying experience by focusing on food.
- As an example, Westfield redevelopments in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles are all increasing the food component of their centre (e.g. Century City at 17%).
- Technology plays a central role in malls remaining relevant. Physical mall developers must keep pace with the changing demands of the consumer who is seeking experiences.
- Bricks-and-mortar retail enhanced by online technology, referred to as “augmented retail”, will be the future – i.e. click-and-collect shopping.
- Malls must ensure that the food and hospitality offer is strategically masterplanned - it’s looking after people and their needs for food and hospitality.
RECon Asia Pacific was a great success and Francis and the team look forward to working with our clients in the region to deliver food and hospitality masterplans that elevate the retail offer and bolster the projects as ‘destinations’ not just for retail but for food, hospitality and the overall centre’s experience.