The ICSC Blog

Q&A With RECon Latin America Speaker Matthew Oster

Matthew Oster
How long have you been involved with the shopping center industry?

For the past three years, I have managed the research for Euromonitor International’s retailing coverage for a number of countries in Latin America, first for Central America, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, and then for Colombia and Venezuela. It has been remarkable to see the dynamism of this industry throughout the region and to witness each country’s unique path to develop and modernize their retailing sectors.

What does participating in RECon Latin America 2014 mean to you?

I’m honored to be able to share my thoughts about retailing in emerging markets at this year’s RECon conference. RECon represents a unique opportunity to share Euromonitor’s global findings about the state of the retail industry and where it can go from here, but also to learn from the many interesting presenters and attendees as well. I look forward to many spirited conversations about the direction of the industry during my stay in Cartagena.

How do you picture the industry 5 years from now?

Across the board, from more developed economies to emerging markets, the retail sector will show marked changes in the next 5 years, due to macroeconomic, demographic and technological factors. In developed markets, constant improvements in mobile technology and data gathering will focus the trend towards micro-targeting and will allow for a blending of traditional retail with internet and mobile applications, to attract consumers wherever they may be. Conversely, the fall of modern superstores will continue as consumers further move to the internet or to smaller, urban locales that better fit their sensibilities.

The retail sector in emerging markets will develop even more quickly, as the pace of technological improvement will allow many countries to skip steps. Every country’s response will be different, but without a doubt, emerging markets will see an expansion of consumer credit programs, mobile retail applications and internet sales over the next 5 years.

Please tell me a Little about the session you will be hosting at RECon Latin America 2014..

Now, over 5 years after the global financial crisis, is a critical time for retail in emerging markets. Multinational and regional companies are pursuing every opportunity to expand their footprint in these fast-growing economies, and the competition for consumers’ hearts and minds will be fierce. But how will retailing look in the emerging economies? Will it develop similar to developed countries, with a natural progression from store-based retailing to internet and mobile-based functionality? Or will global economies of scale allow for emerging economies to catch up more quickly, especially as Europe and the United States continue to plod along? As usual, the answer is somewhere in the middle, as consumers the world over are increasingly demanding retail with more options, smarter services, and cheaper prices.

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