Simon Property Group is partnering with Refinery29 to launch "The Shopping Block" at six of its malls.
This fall, the one-day pop-up mini-marketplaces will arrive at Simon shopping centers with the purpose of capturing millennials' attention, reported Woman's Wear Daily.
The marketplaces will occupy about 1,600 sq. ft. in the shopping center common areas, with 50 percent dedicated to local and upcoming designers and the other 50 percent dedicated to national brands. The setups will also include beauty bars with makeup artists, sweepstakes for shopping sprees, stylist concierges, do-it-yourself stations and local bloggers.
The main goal is simple: Give millennials reason to go to the mall and spend money. The partnership also represents a union of online and offline stores. The 10-year-old Refinery29 features fashion trends and stories but does not conduct e-commerce.
"Increasingly, we need to engage with shoppers and consumers around the country and the world as an aspirational lifestyle retail-oriented brand," Simon's global creative director Chidi Achara told Woman's Wear Daily. The Shopping Block is a component of the developer's year-old re-branding campaign. "Obviously, we are in property management, but the crux of our re-branding is transitioning Simon away from engaging as a property company and more engaging as a retail fashion-oriented brand."
This is Simon's first partnership with Refinery29, a move seen as a step beyond traditional parameters and a way to embrace new channels, rather than working against them. Achara said The Shopping Block could spread to more locations next year if it proves successful.
"The idea of competition between physical and digital is a misnomer," Achara said. "It overlooks the reality of modern shopping behavior. People use both channels at different times for different purposes. Even the millennial shopper still prefers the physical, tactile experience of looking at clothes, trying on clothes and showing what they're buying to friends. The two channels fuel each other."
Even for digital-savvy teens, in-store is still the preferable point of purchase. In fact, shopping in malls ranks as a favorite activity among almost half of teens.
Many department stores anchored in malls are doing their best to woo millenials. For example, Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) recently partnerned with Hearst Brand Development to launch the Seventeen collection. And Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) added video display screens showcasing merchandise on social shopping site Wanelo to its stores.
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