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Elke Haeffner, Center Manager of Fünf Höfe in Munich of B&L Property Management GmbH and Sebastian Guth, Managing Director of 21Media Images: UI

It’s Not about Shopping Center Marketing. It’s about Product Marketing.

Marketing as a decisive success factor has increasingly become a focal point of center management. However, what are the key factors for successful marketing? Elke Haeffner, Center Manager of Fünf Höfe in Munich of B&L Property Management GmbH, and Sebastian Guth, Managing Director of their lead agency 21Media, discussed this issue with ACROSS.

ACROSS: Ms. Haeffner, you have been Center Manager of Fünf Höfe for one and a half years now. Please give us an overview of Fünf Höfe from your point of view.

ELKE HAEFFNER: Fünf Höfe is a very special retail property – a city district magnificently integrated into the heart of Munich, featuring extraordinary architecture, stunning design, an extremely high quality of stay, special brands, many of which are exclusive to our location in Munich, renowned medical practices, wonderful cafés, and, of course, Kunsthalle München. For many, Fünf Höfe also serves as a meeting place in the heart of the city.

ACROSS: This combines a number of success factors. Fünf Höfe appears to be ideally positioned. 

SEBASTIAN GUTH: Statically speaking, that’s correct – but that’s always only half of the story. A great location and impressive architecture are wonderful attributes, but in order to be continuously successful, the right marketing is needed nowadays.  Positioning is a dynamic process, not a static one.

HAEFFNER: Above all, everything revolves around the “right” marketing for the location. In other words, it concerns the issue of why we do certain things and deliberately don’t do others. What are our true USPs, and how do we repeatedly exploit them in exciting ways?

GUTH: For us, it’s not about shopping center marketing, but about product marketing. The key issue is determining what is right for a particular asset in its constantly changing individual system. In addition, you should be careful not to be driven by digitization: Just because something is measurable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing for you.

Fünf Höfe. Installation of “Les Colombes” by Michael Pendry. Image: Union Investment

ACROSS: What exactly does that mean?

HAEFFNER: Fünf Höfe offers many exclusive shops and restaurants. In total, there are over 40 brands in Munich, Bavaria, or Germany that exclusively have stores here. These are traditional companies, such as Schreibmayr and Ludwig Beck, and international brands, such as Max Mara, ba&sh, and Patrizia Pepe. Flagships, such as Coccinelle, are present as well. These unique brands constitute an extremely important USP that we use to our advantage. For our “Special Gifts” Christmas campaign, for example, we went one step further and presented products that were only available at Fünf Höfe in Munich. The offer included the Munich Collection by Massimo Dutti, a unique shoe bar  by Peter Kaiser, and a cooking course with Ali Güngörmüs.

GUTH: … and this world constantly provides exciting new content. Hence, we have also redesigned our communication image. Instead of a campaign, we now have a flexible communication platform that allows us to repeatedly show new motifs while remaining distinctive.

ACROSS: Before we move on to other examples: Ms. Haeffner, 21M is the lead agency that supports your marketing efforts. Does one need external marketing professionals? What agency-related factors are important to you, and what are your expectations?

HAEFFNER: We can only speak for ourselves, but I can definitely say that marketing support is very important for us. With 21M, we work with specialists who do not present pigeonhole concepts, but rather look at Fünf Höfe individually, provide customized support, and think outside of the box. It is not always easy to find a suitable agency, because the fit must work both professionally and personally. We know our product, we know where we want to go, and we always embark on new creative paths – both large and small. We challenge each other time and time again. Of course, that’s exactly what’s fun about it – and that’s when good ideas emerge.

1,200 origami doves float at Fünf Höfe. Installation of “Les Colombes” by Michael Pendry. Image: Union Investment

GUTH: That’s right! At the moment, the Samurai exhibition is taking place at Kunsthalle. As a result of strategic analysis of the exhibition, we realized that we also wanted to provide our visitors with a closer understanding of Japan. Michael Pendry’s installation “Les Colombes” with 1,200 Origami-folded doves serves as a prelude and offers an artistic experience in the heart of Fünf Höfe.

ACROSS: Do experiences automatically result in footfall and turnover?

HAEFFNER: We hope so (laughs). Above all, the experiences are shareable. They are talked about or sent at Selfie Point. We remain visible – as a special place in the middle of the city. Our visitors and passers-by stop and consciously enjoy a beautiful moment at Fünf Höfe, they discover the history of the installation … We constantly surprise our customers in positive ways, thereby ensuring that we remain in people’s minds.

GUTH: I think these kinds of emotional stimuli are important as they enable us to regularly be featured on “Must Go” visitor lists.

HAEFFNER: However, the experience must also suit us. The Kunsthalle and our wonderful cooperation have, naturally, left their mark. However, we are also open to cooperation with various industries. For example, this year, for the first time, we are taking part in Munich Creative Business Week and will serve as a platform for its cooperation partners. Exciting and innovative brand presentations will be included. The common goal is to offer visitors more and to be more diversified.

GUTH: Speaking of Munich Creative Business Week: For us, it’s also about integration into city marketing – whether within the framework of festivals and activities that suit us or in the field of tourism. Incidentally, it’s also great to have Union Investment alongside us as it is very close to its Fünf Höfe brand and supports us at various levels.

ACROSS: Speaking of product marketing, please give me a Fünf Höfe closing statement as well as a general one.

HAEFFNER: Fünf Höfe is a stage in the heart of the city, and we should always perceive it as such. It is a unique place that offers exclusive stories. We constantly try to present exciting stories. It is simply a wonderful enrichment for the city center of Munich and is always worth a visit!

GUTH: Essentially, there is one question at the core of it all: Why should customers visit us? I think it’s worthwhile to intensively contemplate what individual marketing looks like. After all, I believe in the wonderful saying that doing the right things is more important than doing things right.

About Fünf Höfe

The CityQuartier Fünf Höfe district is located in the heart of Munich, in the middle of the historic center.

The complex offers fashion, lifestyle, and indulgence under one roof and covers an area of approximately 16,000 sq m, featuring more than 60 shops and a dozen cafés, bars, and restaurants.

In addition, the renowned 3,200-square-meter Kunsthalle München, almost 27,000 sq m of office space, residential space, and doctors’ offices are located there. Every year, Fünf Höfe attracts more than seven million visitors.

The property is owned by Union Investment, which holds the property in one of its open-ended public property funds.


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