Every event needs a mesmerizing and professional presenter. At the ICSC European Conference & Exhibition on April 10 and 11, 2019, this responsible task was handled by leading consumer & shopper behavioralist Ken Hughes. And he mastered it with flying colors.
During his closing remarks at the end of the event he emphasized that “Hosting the ICSC European Conference was a great honor, an event that brings all the key stakeholders together, from developers to investors, asset managers, retailers, brands and service providers. Add in the exhibition and networking opportunities, and you end up with a powerful two days of sharing challenges, opportunities and doing business. Above all it was an experience. From the sensory exhibits, the nitrogen cloud in the main auditorium, to the break-out sessions where everyone had the opportunity to curate their own personal event. I don’t think anyone left without a few key takeaways for their business.”
Ken himself defined three takeaways. First of all, there is clearly a need for retail real estate to embrace the fantastical transformation journey. While we all recognize the need for innovation and creativity, there may not be enough happening fast enough to cancel out the speed of social and cultural disruption.
His second takeaway as “A Phygital Reality”. What he means by this term is that consumers are living a phygital life but retail real estate remains focused in just one side of that equation. That needs to change.
Thirdly, Ken said “We are not selling or leasing space. We are selling sustainableexperiential spaces. Spaces that draw traffic from a number of angles–be that community, leisure, art, play, or click and collect–and functional spaces will win. We need to be more than just a ‘retail space’ from where products and services are retailed.”
Understanding the core values of the Gen Z
On April 11 at 9:35am Ken held his keynote speech “Gen Z, Your Future Shopper – The Step Change has arrived”, which was very well received by the auditorium. Generation Z consumers in particular will define the success of the industry over the next 20 years. Understanding their core values is critical to design retail that is relevant to the modern consumer.
In this context Ken also spoke about the need to have phygital retail spaces, which have fluid retail spaces that help with today’s shoppers short attention spans, and how pop-ups help build authentic and experiential spaces. Connection was showcased as a key component of retail success, both digitally and on a human level. Modern consumers are highly expectant and thus the shopping center industry needs to deliver beyond these expectations if we are to delight them.