Simon Fashion Now—a touring national fashion show—lets clothing makers show off their wares to shoppers at Simon properties.
Spotlights flood the stage while music pulses through the house. Geometric shapes groove along on big screens in back, as alluring he- and she-models show off the latest styles in front of an immersed crowd. Fashion Week in New York? Actually, it’s the Simon Fashion Now event at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto—one stop on a coastto-coast tour of Simon’s U.S. malls.
Fashion Now is just one new way Simon Property Group is using to engage shoppers nationwide. Whether the company helps Vermont promote tourism or partners with a children’s cancer hospital to showcase a children’s art project, Simon is helping brands reach their targets.
“We have pioneered the transformation of shopping centers into a medium where consumer brands can build relationships with Simon shoppers,” explains Mikael Thygesen, Simon’s CMO, and president of Simon Brand Ventures, Simon’s business-to-consumer arm. He adds that Simon’s multimedia marketing combines the power of live events and mall displays with digital, social and mobile programs.
As the nation’s largest shopping mall operator, with 338 properties in the U.S. and 45 in Europe, Simon Property Group provides a versatile platform for brands to interact with consumers: In 2010, the company hosted more than 12,000 happenings, ranging from fashion shows and brand promotions to health screenings.
Plus, the company has developed many impactful large-format media options that brands and retailers can purchase, including Simon Sky Banners, standees, and wallscapes that are available nationwide with standard sizes and turnkey execution.
“Simon has made it very easy to buy and execute campaigns on a mall, market or national scope,” says Norm Chait, senior vice president and director of OOH Investment & Activation, MediaVest.
Building on its retail marketing advantage—its malls generated almost 3 billion visits, averaging 82 minutes each last year—Simon malls draw loyal shoppers.
They also play multiple roles in the community, like hosting those fashion shows. “Simon Fashion Now lets us showcase our merchandise directly to the consumer in an entertaining way,” says Patrick Wade, creative director, Lucky Brand Jeans. “This type of event generates great publicity, drives traffic and leads to immediate sales.”
To engage upscale shoppers in Houston, Cadillac tapped the pulling power of The Galleria to showcase its brand with a “style shop” featuring Cadillac accessories and a ldquo;test-drive-for-charity” offer. “Simon continues to lead the field with retail marketing programs,” says Tom D’Angelo, the brand’s regional marketing manager. “It’s more than just having a car on property. It’s about engaging the consumer in a relevant way.”
In addition to in-mall programming, Simon’s digital marketing programs deliver timely, relevant information to shoppers. Through Simon mall apps, consumers can get real-time information on events, stores and deals. “With mobile, you can guide the consumer through the physical store and increase the timeliness and relevancy of the offers,” D’Angelo says.
Perfect example: American Eagle recently partnered with Simon to launch a strategic alliance to deliver a location-based smartphone app to more than 100 Simon malls. Shoppers are awarded “kickbucks” from Shopkick—good for gift cards or charity donations—for behaviors like walking into a store. American Eagle took it to another level by providing additional rewards if consumers tried on featured clothing and scanned the tag in the dressing room.
Brands can also reach Simon shoppers through social media sites. “We have Facebook pages for most of our properties,” Thygesen says, “and feed them with timely, relevant information, including offers from brands and retailers.”
In recent years, Simon Brand Ventures has engaged in other consumer business initiatives to support its shoppers and tenants, and has launched strategic marketing relationships with the American Express/Simon Giftcard, Coca-Cola, Ticketmaster and U.S. Bank among others.
As Thygesen says, “Consumers go to the mall not just to shop but to be entertained. They’re receptive to messaging and open to new experiences. This dynamic lets brands develop deeper relationships directly with potential customers.”