REAL ESTATE

CBRE takes interest in experience-driven design firm

BY Al Urbanski

As part of its new strategic move toward helping clients thrive in an omnichannel world, CBRE has acquired a sizeable interest in Streetsense, an experience-focused design collective that strives to create places “people love to be.”

In a two-part deal, the huge commercial real estate services firm takes outright control of Streetsense’s Washington, D.C., retail brokerage business and a 50% ownership of its consumer experience operations. Seventeen Streetsense associates join CBRE’s D.C. operation, which is to be renamed CBRE/Streetsense.

“This brings us a core competency – expertise in consumer experience – that we didn’t previously have in our suite of services,” said Antony Buono, executive managing director of CBRE’s retail advisory and transaction services in the Americas. “Now we can enlist Streetsense’s proven capability to create retail experiences that resonate with customers over the long term and connect them with certain retailers, retail venues, and brands.”

Founded in 2001, Streetsense’s client list has included The Ritz-Carlton, JBG Smith, Interbake Foods, General Growth Properties, Chef Mike Isabella, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

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REAL ESTATE

Are you making the most of shopper-generated content?

BY Brandon Chesnutt

The very same Internet that is marked as brick-and-mortar retail’s nemesis is, ironically, also one of its biggest promoters. Consumers generate photos and content at shopping centers daily and share them via social media. Shopping centers and mixed-use destinations, with their cocktail of retail, dining and entertainment options, provide both the backdrops and the animation that makes them an especially popular setting for pictures and video to capture the moment. The very same internet that is marked as brick-and-mortar retail’s nemesis is, ironically, also one of its biggest promoters. Consumers generate photos and content at shopping centers daily and share them via social media. Shopping centers and mixed-use destinations, with their cocktail of retail, dining and entertainment options, provide both the backdrops and the animation that makes them an especially popular setting for pictures and video to capture the moment.

This user-generated content, or UGC, is more organic, authentic, and potentially more impactful than anything that shopping centers can generate on their own. More importantly, there’s a lot of it out there, and retailers and shopping centers can use it to build traffic. The key is to tap into that vast reservoir of content in a smart and strategic way. Understanding what’s available to you – and how to leverage this content on your own channels – should be a priority for any shopping center or marketing/social media professional.

The term “experiential” as it relates to shopping experience is as over-defined as it is overused. All it really means is providing shoppers plenty of opportunities to do things. Maybe it’s a young child watching a puppet show or playing in a fountain. Maybe it’s a family sitting down for a meal or a selfie with a friend. It could even be something as simple as enjoying a great cup of coffee after having found the perfect pair of shoes. .

Many centers are already leveraging such content and integrating it into ongoing social media campaigns. However, the process is muddled at best. Searching through all the content, depending on the volume created, can take a great deal of time. Obtaining permission to post a piece of content created by a user via a comment or direct message demands more than the standard photo release form.

That’s where user-generated marketing solutions come in. These game-changing tools use location-based monitoring programs to easily filter and organize the volume of experiences being captured, make outreach easy and scalable, and ensure that appropriate rights sign-off is obtained prior to sharing an image created by a guest.

UGC marketing solutions like Chute and Olapic provide mixed-use centers with a platform to identify content created in and around their center, tag assets by type of post, and manage the sharing process smoothly. Photos and videos created by guests while at the property are fed directly into a review dashboard based on the tagging of the center or the use of a brand hashtag. As a result, social media shares can be easily integrated into brand content. More importantly, content creators can automatically be presented with terms of use agreements via these platforms.

What’s most compelling about UGC as a marketing tool is its authenticity. It resonates with viewer in ways that brand-produced content cannot. Consider that:

• Ads based on user-generated content  generate click-through rates four-times-higher than brand-produced  content, and at around half the cost;
• User-generated YouTube videos get 10x more views than agency produced content;
• Brand engagement increases an average of 28% when users are exposed to a combination of user created product videos and professional content;
• Visitors to sites incorporating UGC stick around twice as long and  20% more come back.

Here are some best practices for turning your shoppers into your promoters:

Pay attention. “Listen” closely and identify where content is being created. Search for hashtags and key words, and make use of geolocation tools.

Define what you are looking for, but be open to serendipity. Know what you want (entertainment, shopping, food) before you go looking, but be flexible. When spectacular content appears, use it.

Ask permission. Communicate clearly and consistently with content creators. When you ask permission to use content, be specific. What does “share this” mean? Consider a more sophisticated legal agreement that gives you more latitude in how you can use an image and eliminates any gray areas. That said, let them know you like their work and award credit freely. There’s no customer like a current customer, so be aware that you are increasing these shoppers’ experiences when you share their content.

People are going to talk and post about your center whether you are paying attention or not, so get some control of shopper-generated content. It can and should be a central part of your social strategy.

Brandon Chesnutt is the digital and development director for Identity PR. He can be reached at [email protected].

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REAL ESTATE

Murfreesboro power center changes hands

BY Al Urbanski

DLC has sold the Town Centre in Murfreesboro, Tenn. to St. Louis-based Integris Ventures, according to JLL, which brokered the deal on behalf of the seller. The sale price was not disclosed.

The 108,000-sq.-ft. power center offers up Lowes, Target, TJ Maxx, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Party City, Pier 1 Imports, and Dollar Tree at the intersection of I-24 and Old Fort Parkway. Daily traffic counts are approximately 109,000 along I-24 and 33,000 along the frontage road, Old Fort Parkway.

“We are very excited to acquire such a quality asset in a growing and dynamic market,” said Integris president Jason Fine.

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