Marna van der Walt, CEO of Excellerate Property Services, commented: "Introducing Excellerate Brand Management to our group increases the full-spectrum of services we offer to retail property owners. It will be central to ensuring the goals and actions of shopping centre marketing are completely aligned with its management strategies and owners' objectives, and best support its retailers, using the latest advances in technology."
Darren Katz, MD of Excellerate Brand Management, has exceptional insight into the ever-changing dynamics of the retail sector. He is the former director and founding partner of Primall Media, part of the Primedia Unlimited group of companies, where he spent the past 12 years.
Katz explained: "Understanding our shoppers is more critical than ever before for retail success. In our rapidly changing world, malls and retailers are quickly realising that being competitive means tailoring their offerings to customers and building greater customer loyalty. Our key focus is getting closer to consumers by understanding what they want and when they want it. To do this, we'll be introducing new innovations, technologies and ideas."
Excellerate Brand Management will focus and refine retail experiences by embracing technologies including mobile, social media, branding, digital, analytics and marketing. Yet it will not offer branding services in the traditional sense.
"The shopping experience is affected by more than just traditional offerings, marketing and branding, so creating effective solutions and appealing experiences requires going beyond the norm," said Katz. "We want to change the perception of retail space for property owners. We aim to create and conceptualise an innovative and all-inclusive brand management platform with our understanding and insight into the needs, attitudes and behaviours of consumers. By their very nature, malls need a unique and specialised approach. Malls are the mother brand in the retail ecosystem, in which all the other brands live."
With the latest retail innovations and consumer trends, this is becoming increasingly clear. Katz expects that soon we will see the demise of the anchor tenant as the main draw card to shopping centres. "Instead, the mall will evolve into an experience - a single, convenient destination providing more than a location to shop, work, socialise and eat."
Today, consumers share more and more information in their interconnected digital world - how they buy, socialise and transact. Katz believes this opens the door to a whole host of new opportunities that have unlimited potential to enhance the shopping experience for mall customers.
"The most exciting aspect and challenge for Excellerate Brand Management is beginning a different type of relationship with our shoppers through digital collaboration - this in itself is the biggest growth opportunity for us."
One of the major goals Excellerate Brand Management has set itself is driving greater revenue streams for retail property owners, and creating new ones, when it develops new customer experiences.
"Retail is becoming a more targeted and personal science. This means there is a need to manage business intelligence effectively using data information and new technologies. As a result Excellerate Brand Management will focus on 'digital' as its true driver of growth. "It creates new channels for interaction and engagement," said Katz, pointing to the emergence of location-based advertising as an exciting new opportunity.
"Knowing consumers' whereabouts through mobile devices allows accurate and relevant offers to reach only specific and applicable customers. This in itself will drive a viable revenue stream that will move retail forward," he said.
For Excellerate Brand Management, the starting point is working with the unique qualities of each shopping centre already under Excellerate Property Services umbrella. This is no small task. Excellerate group company JHI Retail manages 340 shopping centres spanning some 2.7 million m² of gross lettable retail space.
"From there, we will build a unified brand story across all the innovative technologies and ideas in our growing, and increasingly digital, ecosystem," noted Katz.
But this is only the beginning. It will also expand its services beyond the Excellerate Group, to other property owners in South Africa and - leveraging off Excellerate's strong and growing African footprint - across the continent too.
The Excellerate Property Services group of companies includes: Excellerate Facility Management, Excellerate Brand Management, Excellerate Utilities Management, JHI Property Services, JHI Advisory, JHI Retail, JHI CRES, Enforce Security, Interpark, Sterikleen, Eradico Pest Services, Katanga, Fresh Cafe, Chattels Event Management, Kgodisa Training Academy, First Technical, Syenap Properties, Y-Zone; and Creative Tension.