WP Glimcher (NYSE: WPG), a leader in the ownership, management, acquisition and development of retail properties, wanted to expand its branding of “Experience Retail,” the concept that going to the mall is about the experiences like dining out, watching a movie or participating in community events, and that these experiences continue to be the main reasons people prefer the mall to online shopping. Glimcher charged AFA with the task of solidifying its position through data and establishing the company’s reputation as the leader on “Experience Retail” in the industry.
AFA developed a comprehensive strategy with short and long-term objectives. AFA engaged Dr. Marianne Bickle, director of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Retailing and an expert on retail and consumer behavior, to consult on a nationwide study that was conducted on Glimcher’s behalf. The study was branded the “Glimcher Retail Monitor™” and designed as the first in a series of periodic surveys on the behavior of shoppers in today’s changing environment. In conjunction with Dr. Bickle, AFA developed survey questions designed to understand why people come to the mall. The survey was conducted online among 3,344 adults ages 18 and up. AFA oversaw the study’s implementation and analyzed the results, which were included in a press release that was distributed nationally.
The study was successful in positioning Glimcher as the thought leader on “Experience Retail.” Results of the study showed people want a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment, and that in addition to experiences, the mall continues to be the central gathering place in almost every community. A major outcome of the program was extensive media coverage in major print and online outlets including Investor’s Business Daily, Forbes.com, Seeking Alpha, Globe Street, the Columbus Business Journal, REIT.com, and the Tampa Bay Times, among others. The study became a platform for Glimcher management to discuss the company’s strategy with investors and potential tenants. Results of the study also created content for the company’s social media platforms and were used in presentations at industry conferences and events.