JS: The value of the space could therefore change on an hourly basis…
II: Absolutely. If it’s a media platform and ceases just to be a piece of real estate, its success will be determined by its ability to programme itself and change and be fluid like a piece of media. The way all this affects designers is that it’s no longer about shelves and glass fronts; it’s about creating a stage, a platform which is completely programmable with technology, sound and multi-sensory experiences. It allows a brand to not just sell its stuff but tell its story.
Far from the internet killing shops, it will actually liberate them. It’s this liberation that’s interesting.
It opens the door to a whole host of new players who haven’t seen a physical space as a channel and normally use their media spend on media. Now we’re saying that part of that media spend can be used on the physical space. The asset owners that can understand that and have the balls to invest and change the way they view space are the ones that will win.
JS: What are the behavioural trends of consumers that are driving this change?
II: We believe it is a series of things. It’s a busier and busier life. There’s a demand for consumers to have asset-light lives, with less and less stuff. It’s a change of habit where people are less committed; they’re commitment-phobes. We’ve seen a reaction against big brands, a massive trend in localisation and craft. Death of the logo, death of cookie-cutter retail – all of that is a reaction against establishment. These are the massive societal changes driving all of this. Status has always been at the core of consumerism, but what’s interesting is how it’s now flipped from being about what you own to what you choose what not to own.
JS: What will the retail landscape look like in the next five years?
II: There will be a clear-out of retailers that are not relevant. We are seeing the likes of Debenhams and House of Fraser going; I could have told you ten years ago that they are rubbish retailers, and they haven’t changed. Why are those two going bust when in the same industry, with the same set-up, Selfridges grows by 20%? It’s because they aren’t relevant. I think we’ll see an emergence of some really exciting new players – an emergence of brands that have not been in the physical space sphere. We’ll see a repurposing of assets, and way more hybrid interweaving of different experiences, resulting in a greater convergence of work, shopping, leisure, culture and hospitality. It will be a very interesting time.
This post was extracted from Exchange, Make’s thought leadership series which explores some of the challenges and trends that the property industry is encountering. Issue No. 2 looks at retail and is available to download.