The ICSC Blog

March 30, 2015

ICSC #CREMinute March 2015

2014 was a fantastic year for the shopping center industry. Jesse Tron, ICSC Director of Communications and Media Relations, touches on a few key data points from the past year, among them that U.S. Shopping Center occupancy rates hit a six-year high in 2014.

March 26, 2015
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10 Reasons You Simply Must Attend ICSC’s European Conference

Held the 20th to the 21st of April, ICSC’s European Conference is sure to astound, enliven, and inspire. Following is a list of ten reasons why mixing business and pleasure at the ICSC European Conference is an excellent idea.


This is the 40th anniversary of the ICSC European Conference, and you know what that means: HUGE speakers, one of which is visionary Scott Galloway. A brand expert, Galloway’s recent 15-minute presentation comparing the prospects of Google, Apple, and Amazon, went viral on YouTube. At the European Conference, Galloway will discuss the revolutionary effect digital will have on the role of the store, and focus on its impact on the major brands driving the industry.
secret supper clubFor your first night in London, schedule a meal at a secret supper club, the trend coasting its way into London culture. The experience is like visiting a restaurant, only it’s in someone’s home – a much more intimate experience, and a unique one at that – most clubs change the meal every evening. Make sure you book your visit
NextGen LiveNEXT GEN LIVE! is one of several exciting events premiering at the ICSC European Conference. Attendees will have the chance to listen to top-level speakers provide rapid-fire, thought-provoking presentations one after another. Experience the interactive, in depth debate between top minds in the industry as this global concept brings the Next Gen initiative to the next level.
One New Change Rooftop Terrace - LaunchFollowing a long day of deal making, take in a panoramic view of the city from the One New Change public roof terrace at Madison Restaurant. Overlooking the iconic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the terrace offers a stylish retreat from the Conference for those who like a generous order of history and culture with their view.
5.InspiringRetailZoneAnother session premiering is the Inspiring Retail Zone, targeted at new retail concepts. IRZ will showcase brands from across EMEA and form an integral part of the networking area at the Conference. Participating retailers will display their wares in a kiosk or a pop-up store to maximize product exposure, and attendees will be introduced to creative retail concepts.
cyclingTo see the city from street level, hire a “Boris Bike” and cycle around Regents Park, one of the most beautiful spots in London, or follow one of the recommended “leisure routes” to discover a secret garden, independent shops and markets, or sporting sights.
7. Educational SessionsKnown for its optimal educational sessions, the ICSC European Conference will provide insight into current trends and concerns so retail real estate professionals can reposition their companies for a successful future. Presentations like “Global Retail Tourism – How Can Europe Win?,” “Future-Proofing Destinations…,” and “Destinations Exposed” will give attendees the keysfor industry success.
Borough MarketAs advised by the ICSC London office, visit Borough Market, preferably on a Thursday. Avoid the overpriced fruit and vegetables, but don’t miss the pork pies with chopped apple, handmade sweet olive oil biscuits, or the coconut drops from Burnt Sugar, elusive Mexican ingredients from the Cool Chile Company. One pro tip: don’t take pictures without the traders’ permission, as they can get “right arsey.”
shopping innovationICSC’s European Conference is focused on the future. In their brand new Innovation Zone, participating companies will feature their new ideas and innovative solutions for the retail and real estate industry. Does your company want to position itself as an innovator? Then check out the technologies on the horizon at the European Conference’s Innovation Zone.
The-Crabtree-W6-24If you want dinner on the Thames as a special treat for your last evening in London, head to Hammersmith and Putney to avoid tourists. There you’ll find traditional pubs and riverside beer gardens, with food as equally delicious as what you might find in the Southbank. One comes at high recommendation: The Crabtree.

March 24, 2015
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Don’t Miss Erik Qualman’s #RECon15 Keynote

By Lily Sloss

Erik Qualman            With a superhero name like E.Qualman (Equalman!), it’s a surprise Erik Qualman has never been to RECon before, a top destination for superheroes. He’s super excited to be a keynote speaker at RECon 2015 – and he’s really hoping he does well enough to be invited back again. He’s heard such good things about the event: the networking, how great it is to meet people, and to learn new information.

In the brief and delightful conversation I had with Mr. Qualman, he confirmed he would be bringing his signature green glasses. Thank goodness.

Erik Qualman is a gifted speaker, author, and professor. His book, Socialnomics, was a finalist for the American Marketing Association’s “Book of the Year,” and his blog,, is ranked as a top 10 Blog by PC Magazine. He also made Forbes Top 50 Power Influencers list. Among his many accomplishments, he may be best known for writing and producing the world’s most watched social media video.

He will be discussing the 5 habits of digital leadership and talking a little bit about his book, Socialnomics at RECon 2015. During our chat, we discussed his glasses (obviously!), digital leadership, and… spicy tacos. Given how interesting and funny our conversation was, I have no doubt his talk on May 19th, from 11:15am-12:15pm will make RECon 2015 one for the record books.


Things We Learned from Erik Qualman

  1. Don’t be afraid of social media tools. “They won’t replace face-to-face, they aren’t meant to,” but they do provide a way in which to traverse time and space when you’re separate from your business partners.
  2. Peyton Manning is going to kill it at RECon. “A crowd favorite, I bet.”
  3. What works for one business, won’t work for everyone. While my optimal social media tools might be Facebook, Farmville, and Instagram, Erik’s could be LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Pick what works best for you.
  4. Of all the movie characters in the illustrious history of film, Erik most identifies with Frank “the Tank” from Old School. Despite this choice, he promises he’s qualified to speak at length about business.
  5. When I called, he was about to eat a spicy taco at SXSW. Related: sometimes he reads a book to his daughter called: “Dragons Hate Spicy Tacos.” Hmm… “NO, WAIT. Dragons Love Tacos – that’s what it’s called…they just don’t like spicy tacos, because when they eat them, they burn their houses down.” Fair enough, dragons.
  6. If you’re going to do RECon and Vegas right – you need to at least spend a little time outside. “Go to the pool, get some melatonin, get your brain firing. Go eat – recharge.” If you eat at a restaurant, try to eat outside. “…And people watch,” he explained. Yes, sir.
  7. Speaking of people watching: Erik told me his green glasses have become a bit of a calling card. People at SXSW stopped him to say: “I thought it was you, and then when I saw your glasses – I knew it was you!” At an event in Kenya a few years ago, the audience was quite disappointed when Mr. Qualman didn’t have his glasses, standing up to ask, repeatedly: “Seriously, where are your glasses?” He won’t make that mistake again. I told him I thought the glasses were iconic. He admitted some people say that, but he was sure that 20% of the people who saw him thought: “Who is that tool in the green glasses?”
  8. If he were world-class at something – he’d want it to be singing while playing a guitar. One of those “impacting the world” type singers. “Like John Lennon,” he explained. He doesn’t know whether his voice is good or terrible – but he’d guess the latter, since he’s never been formally trained.
  9. He is an Oprah fan. “She was likable before it was cool to be likable.”
  10. He once worked in a mall – at an AMC theater. He asked, excitedly: “Will they be there?” Who, Mr. Qualman? “AMC!” “I don’t know,” I responded. “Do you think they will remember you?”


It is unlikely that whoever owns AMC will remember him from his days working in one of their theaters. But if they know who Erik Qualman is – they’ll definitely recognize him. If not iconic, those glasses are LOUD.


March 23, 2015
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Q&A With #EuroConf Speaker Kevin McKenzie

Kevin Mckenzie1. ICSC is celebrating its’ 40th Anniversary of the European Conference in London – in your opinion what are the reasons for this milestone and ultimately its success?
The success of the organization over the last 40 years can really be attributed to ICSC serving as an impartial convener and educator to numerous property owners, retailers, investors and managers on the continually shifting landscape of the retail world.

2. What do you expect to gain from attending the conference in April?
At a time when trends are quickly shifting, and information is changing by the minute, I am hoping to hear about the latest changes in retail that can impact my business and to connect with others in the shopping industry to see how we can ideate on the future of retail and shopping.

3. The theme for this year’s conference is Destination: Retail – how is retail evolving and what innovations are you seeing to create alluring destinations?
At Westfield Labs, our business is to figure out how innovation and retail can come together to create one-of-a-kind shopping destinations. Retail is no long purely brick-and-mortar or strictly on-line, over the last few years you have seen the blending of the physical and digital worlds to create a fully immersive shopping experience that starts at the point of consumer inspiration and need. The innovations we are seeing now really take that to heart as we see traditional online retailers open pop-ups, traditional brick-and mortar experiment with digital storefronts and the increase trend towards on-demand services like food ordering or delivery.

4. Do you see Europe as a long term destination for consumers? How does it compare to US or Asia?
Absolutely. We are always amazed by the adoption of our test pilots in the UK. Although there are nuances in shoppers around the world, ultimately they all want the same things: an easier, more curated, shopping experience; and, to get access to the things they want when they want them.

March 20, 2015
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The rumors are true: RECon 2015 will be the best yet!

Can’t get enough RECon? Neither can we; here’s some insight into some of our top presenters at RECon 2015 – the keynote speakers for Sunday through Tuesday.

John Maxwell

Speaking Sunday, May 17th, 2:30 – 3:30 pm

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker. He’s sold more than 24 million books, written in fifty different languages. Often referred to as America’s top leadership authority, Maxwell speaks to Fortune500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders every year. He is also the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 188 countries.


Speaking Monday, May 18th, 12:30 – 2:00 pm

Stefan Larsson is the Global President of Old Navy, a division of Gap Inc. Previously he held a highly successful career at the fast-fashion Swedish retailer, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M). His career there spanned nearly 15 years, most recently serving as head of Global Sales with functional responsibility for nearly all of the company’s $17 billion in annual sales. Larsson held an integral role in H&M’s global expansion, with a responsibility for real estate, store design, and store construction.


Speaking Monday, May 18th, 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Commander Rorke T. Denver has run every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs and led special-forces missions. He starred in the hit film Act of Valor, which is based on true SEAL adventures. His New York Times Best Seller, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior, takes you inside his personal story and the fascinating, demanding SEAL training program he oversaw.

Erik Qualman

Speaking Tuesday, May 19th, 11:15am – 12:15 pm

Erik Qualman is a gifted speaker, author, and professor. His book, Socialnomics was a finalist for “Book of the Year,” and his blog,, is ranked as a top 10 Blog. He also made Forbes Top 50 Power Influencers list. He has performed in 42 countries with Coach, Chase, M&M/Mars, and Facebook, among others. He is listed as a top 50 MBA Professor, and today sits on several company boards. Among his many accomplishments, he may be best known for writing and producing the world’s most watched social media video.


Speaking Tuesday, May 19th, 12:30 – 2:00 pm

Named one of the world’s top marketers and global innovators, Michael R. Francis is the Chief Global Brand Officer for DreamWorks Animation SKG. Previously, he worked as the President of J.C. Penney, overseeing Marketing, Merchandising and Design, and Sourcing. He also spent more than 26 years with the Target Corporation, working for over a decade as their Global Chief Marketing Officer. Francis is also involved with many civic and cultural groups.






March 19, 2015
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A Lesson Learned from Vail in Webinar: Experience is Everything


By Lily Sloss

Alan McKeon, president and CEO of Alexander Babbage, Inc. led a Webinar for ICSC titled “Experience is everything: Rules for driving shopper engagement.”

In his discussion, McKeon focused heavily on the disparity between the old model and the new model of driving shopper engagement. He emphasized that companies must change their way of thinking to succeed. In the old model, retailers or brands had the power, but now the consumer has the power.

One illustrative example he gave was Vail Resorts, Inc., owner of several world famous ski resorts. Although Vail is not a retailer, their brand shifted their model to be more experience-centric,, a concept that is easily extrapolated to the shopping center industry.

In the 2009-2010 ski season, Vail was seriously struggling. They had expensive fixed assets, a decreasing number of return customers year-after-year, and it seemed as though their best years might be behind them.

Instead of sticking doggedly to their own way of doing things, they introduced a radical new tool: epicMIXTM, a Vail-exclusive app. The app was introduced to all of Vail’s Season-Pass holders to track their progress, pictures, and skiing experience throughout the ski season.

Rather than relying on their limited tools to document and advertise their slopes, Vail put the marketing power in the hands of their skiers. Vail was relying on their Season-Pass holders’ social currency to do the work. And work it did.

The app served as a magnificent, extremely low-cost marketing campaign.

As skiers tweeted and posted photos of their most fun and outrageous moments on Vail’s slopes, the company’s business boomed. The skiers’ friends and online followers saw how much fun they were having at Vail’s resorts, and booked tickets for themselves, and their families. Attendance on the mountains skyrocketed.

Before epicMIXTM, Vail had posted a photographer at the top of all its mountains. As skiers got off the ski lift, the photographer would take a photo of them. If the skiers wanted the photo, they would have to head down the mountain at the end of the day, navigate the shops, and spend a premium rate to buy the framed photo for their home. It was a hassle to get to the store and expensive to buy the photo, so most people didn’t utilize the service.

Now, Vail’s photographer takes these photos and posts them directly to the app where all visitors can access them for free. Instead of trying to make money off of the individual photos, Vail profits off the social currency of these photos. Individuals access the photos online and share them on their social media accounts, thus advertising Vail’s resorts for them, ultimately the more fiscally beneficial move.

Vail Resorts, Inc. is one of many innovative, industry leaders McKeon discussed during his Webinar. As the consumer shifts and transforms before us, the shopping center model must also shift. It is increasingly important to create these incredible experiences for consumers, putting the power back in their hands to share the success story. The brands and shopping centers that recognize and take advantage of this are bound to succeed; just as Vail did.

March 18, 2015
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#ICSCRetailerofTheWeek: Mophie Pop Up Shop Saves The Day!


Mophie, the California-based technology company, came up with a unique promotion at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year.

When a SXSW visitor saw their cell phone battery was about to die – they tweeted a screenshot to @mophie with the hashtag #mophierescue. Mophie didn’t send a typical employee to help out – they sent a dog from the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation with a mophie power reserve battery to charge the dying phone. St. Bernards to the rescue!
If selected for rescue, tweeters received a return tweet and a link to an interactive map where they could track the St. Bernard as it came from the mophieRescue Lodge to their rescue. Festivalgoers who caught sight of the rescue dog could attempt to stop it for a photo, and, if they tweeted the photo @mophie, were entered into a prize competition.

Mophie capitalized on the reputation of St. Bernards – these are the dogs sent to save people in the Alps – while providing the dogs with some love, too. The promotion served two purposes, highlighting the Mophie Power Reserve, and showcasing the lovable St. Bernards and their foundation.
A few of the dogs from the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation were available to be adopted. People could visit and take pictures with the dogs at the mophieRescue Lodge. The Lodge was entirely tricked out: featuring mophie products, of course, but also providing giveaways, a pop-up shop, and free beer. Not a bad way to advertise products and St. Bernards.

Furthermore, the pop-up shop is a positive sign. When a non-traditional brand like mophie chooses to provide a brick-and-mortar type space instead of doing something solely digital, it emphasizes how important having a physical experience is for the consumer. The mophieRescue Lodge allowed visitors to hang out with their product and the dogs, and leave with positive associations of the company. It would be impossible to provide that type of experience with just a phone.

At the end of the day, the promotion was a win-win. “It’s mophie and St. Bernards save the people of [SXSW] and the people save the St. Bernards,” said Kevin Malinowski, a member of mophie’s internal marketing department.
And a fully-charged phone ain’t bad, either.

March 13, 2015
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The Great American Mall is Alive and Well


By Jesse Tron, @JesseTronPR, ICSC Director of Communications and Media Relations

The great American bastion to consumerism known ubiquitously as “The Mall” is not taking the proverbial standing eight count, contrary to various exaggerated media reports.

Much ink has been spilled of late on this “Death of Malls” topic, with each being more inflammatory than the next. Let’s face it, it’s an easy story to write: Find a struggling or defunct mall, write a story making generalizations linking it to all malls, play up the “nostalgia” factor, rinse and repeat.

But that narrative belies the true nature of what is occurring in the industry and tests the limits of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy (the idea that sequence proves cause). It would go something like this: e-commerce is born, mall X dies. And, therefore, all malls will die.

To read the full story, visit Coca-Cola’s Journey page.

March 11, 2015
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Learn About VIVA Finalist: Siam Center

Siam 1.jpg1. So tell us about who you are and what you do?
Siam Piwat is the Icon of Innovation in Thailand’s retail property development. We are a company of ‘firsts’, bringing innovation and unparalleled experiences to Thailand, and to our visitors from around the world. We create distinctive and creative world-class projects. We win by being thought-leaders, constantly innovating revolutionary retail concepts and new lifestyle ideas. We build long-term, mutually rewarding relationships with our retailers by collaborating with them to give greater value for greater success.

Throughout 50 years in the business, Siam Piwat has consistently been the first to develop projects that have set the company apart and has distinguished itself with its international-standard developments. These projects include the Siam Intercontinental — Thailand’s first five-star hotel, Siam Center — Thailand’s first international standard shopping center and the heart of Thailand’s fast-forward fashion scene, Siam Discovery – Thailand’s first lifestyle shopping center, Siam Paragon –the retail entertainment phenomenon, the best world class shopping destination and Paradise Park — an unparalleled shopping complex in eastern Bangkok.

Today, Siam Piwat is poised to offer Thailand the next generation in lifestyle experience with the launch of “ICONSIAM”, the new national landmark of Thailand with US$1.54 billion investment on the river of king in Bangkok. Upon the completion in 2017, this iconic project will be the defining property development of its era and an iconic legacy for the country. ICONSIAM to combine the best that Thailand has to offer with the best of the world to become a new paradigm of excellence and will be a must-see destination of Thailand drawing visitors from around the world and from around Thailand.

2. Tell us about your project?
Siam Center was Thailand’s first modern and most innovative shopping center in the heart of Bangkok and marked the beginning for many emerging brands that are today’s leading brands, domestically and internationally. With its latest concept, Siam Center is no longer just a shopping center, but is “The Ideaopolis” – the home of visionary ideas fueled by the brightest Thai and international talents in fashion, art, technology and lifestyle.

Inspired by New York’s Soho, where brands, from luxury labels to high street names, left behind their usual store design so as to blend into the unique environment of the district, all stores in Siam Center have collaborated in creating an exciting and total transformation of a retail space. Both Thailand’s leading brands and well-known global brands in fashion, lifestyle, or food and beverage, agreed to individually design the most unique concept shops of their own but tailored to a single, overriding concept – the Siam Center concept.

At Siam Center, visitor is guaranteed unrivalled experiences not only from the ambience of the venue but also from each store’s unique offering that are exclusive to Siam Center, year-round changing art exhibitions from both talented Thai and global artists as well as cutting-edge digital technology that will expand the minds of visitors.

Siam Center, “the Ideaopolis”, therefore, remains the most powerful marketplace of ideas, a culmination of the passion of the most creative minds in Thailand and beyond. It is an authoritative platform for emerging talent in Bangkok, an ever-changing showcase for creativity expressed through architecture, displays, products, exhibitions and events. Ultimately, it is a place to be amazed, inspired and to discover the truly revolutionary.

siam 3.jpg3. What made this project stand out?
Siam Center has taken a brave and “trailblazer” like step in creating a revolutionary retail experience. The full rejuvenation of the interiors and exteriors, as well as the ‘WORLD FIRST’ introduction of a unique new retail development concept have written a new chapter in Thailand’s retail landscape and put Bangkok among the ranks of the world’s most innovative shopping destinations.

Siam Center has pushed the boundaries of what a shopping center can offer. Despite the limited space and the usual constraints of an old building, it successfully recreated in synergy with the retailers the most powerful retail revolution and evolved into the Ideaopolis; a place where great new ideas are presented, where art, fashion, technology, lifestyle and entertainment converge to create the unexpected and an inspiring experience for every visitor, and at every visit.

4. What are you most excited for at RECon 2015?
As Siam Piwat’s project ‘Siam Center The Ideaopolis’ has made a VIVA Design & Development finalist, it is our honor to represent Thailand through the most innovative project in the world’s largest event for the shopping center industry. This is another big step of our success as the Icon of Innovation in Thailand’s retail property development and also we are very proud to be a part of building Thailand’s reputation. We believe that ICSC’s RECon 2015 will give us an opportunity to be recognized on the global stage and connect with all stakeholders across the world.

Siam 2.jpg

March 9, 2015
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RECon 2015 is coming! RECon 2015 is coming!

ManningPeyton -WithFootball

Yes. You heard right.

RECon 2015 is a mere ten weeks away. Nine weeks and six days to be precise – but who’s counting?

Those of you waiting eagerly for the event – get hyped – read the following for a brief introduction to one of our impeccable keynote speakers.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the league’s only five-time MVP and a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, has recently set the NFL record for most career passing touchdowns. His 2013 season ended with a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, making him only the third quarterback in NFL history to lead multiple teams to a Super Bowl. In addition to his record breaking career in football, Manning is the recipient of several humanitarian awards for his work on various foundations. He has also delved into retail, franchising more than 20 Papa John’s Pizza restaurants.