Most shoppers do not care who owns the mall they visit, but many real estate investment trust want to change that by the creation of a brand identity.Simon is the largest mall owner in the US and they are set to boost their brand. The company launched a loyalty program at five of its malls during last year and is in the process of investing in technology to aid in shopper behavior.
Simon had a good year during 2014. Its funds from operations increased to a record $8.90 per share, with retailer sales per square foot for the year reaching $619 per square foot – another record. Its tenant occupancy stood at a record 97.1%.
However, many malls are struggling with a drop in traffic. This is prompting mall owners to research new methods to stand out from the rest.
Simon is new to branding efforts; unlike Westfield that has always included its name in all of the malls it owns to confirm branding. Simon has placed advertisements at the entrances to subways within New York City, which includes a logo and the name of its malls. It has also added "Premium" to all its luxury outlets mall names. In a bid to create a look that is recognizable, it makes use of black, white and grey at its malls.
Simon has extended this branding strategy to other sections of its business. Its loyalty programs include special perks such as free parking for people who sign up, and points collection which can be redeemed at specific stores. At present, points can only be redeemed at the mall where it was earned, but this may well change to include other Simon’s malls.
The group’s focus has been on technology. It has teamed up with eBay on the installation of an interactive 3D map and personalized offers. It is teaming up with Aldo, the shoe retailers, on a digital storefront. Simon has formed a venture capital division which is set to invest in new retail technology companies.
Although around 35% of shoppers have heard of Simon, the company hopes to increase that percentage.
Simon’s goal is to offer its retailers and consumers a better product and hope to engage with consumers and gain a resultant extended visit to its malls.