Given that they house regional mall tenants and now, on occasion, even regional mall anchors, lifestyle centers should be marketed like regional malls, right?
Wrong. The open-air nature of these projects, often resembling an urban downtown, and the addition of nonretail elements tie them even more closely to a community, say their builders and marketers, and require even more marketing efforts.
“When you have a lifestyle-center development, you have to be everything to everyone,” said Tracey Gotsis, senior VP of development marketing for Westcor Partners, the Phoenix-based subsidiary of The Macerich Co.
And that means marketing these projects requires appealing to three very different audiences: the tenants, the government officials who approve the construction and finally, but no less importantly, the shopper.
“The local community takes ownership, since it’s not a big behemoth,” said Marc Hays, VP of lifestyle centers for Developers Diversified Realty, Beachwood, Ohio.
Not surprisingly, the first focus is the retailer.Without tenant interest, there is no center to market.
“The first customer is the tenant,” said David Scholl, VP of development for Westcor Partners. “First and foremost, we maintain a close relationship with the tenant. Then we serve as ambassadors for the tenant, meeting with community groups and city staff. There are a litany of stakeholders, and we get input from them to take back to the tenant.”
In fact, more often than not, major tenants themselves are the catalyst for a center, telling a developer that a certain market is of interest. It is up to the landlord to create the project that will serve their needs, then convince local officials that the project will work in their community.
During the early development phase, marketing to tenants and the community occur simultaneously. Analyzing the marketplace is the first step, Hays said. Developers Diversified performs a feasibility study to make sure a lifestyle center can succeed, which tenants might work and what format it should take. Research includes available land, which tenants are missing in a market and which tenants are needed. Armed with enough tenant interest and the proper demographic