Last week, members of the Redwood team attended the 21st MAPIC conference at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in sunny Cannes. The event, which is the biggest in the international retail calendar, draws together the great and good from across the international retail property industry. A world renowned networking opportunity, MAPIC sets the tone for what we will see globally in the world of retail over the next 12 months.

Here, we give our review on the shopping trends that are reaching scorching point…

‘Retailtainment’ has become a reality. It is no longer just a feature of boardroom brainstorms the world over, and the challenge was at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year. The growth of the trend is a result of the fast paced evolution of the industry and improvements in retailers’ digital platforms as bricks and mortar is forced to compete with the internet. And, although a strong food and beverage offer and complementary cinema anchor is still important, it is now widely recognised that consumers are demanding more.

From what we hear, the solution lies in creating a fully immersive retail experience. For example, this Christmas you may find that the cheery festive jingle you hear is accompanied by the tingling smell of pine cones. Egg nog lattes will be handed out and cosy fairy lights will be turned on despite it being 2pm in the afternoon. By targeting all of the senses, retailers and landlords can provide a rounded experience which simply cannot be replicated online.

Looking specifically at the UK, this year’s conference confirmed that Britain remains an attractive location for international retailers looking to expand into Europe. What did become clear though is that it is important for brands to carefully consider how they tailor their product to a new market rather than adopting a one size fits all approach. Understanding the geography and demographics of regions is vital in order for retailers to know how to convert sales and drive footfall and in order to have the best chance of success, drawing on local expertise is worth its weight in gold.

From a communications point of view, it was clear that many delegates had gone over and above to ensure their brand engaged attendees, as retailers are doing with consumers. We had a good snoop around the stands at MAPIC; fly-throughs resembling Hollywood action films were shown on big screens, detailed CGIs were plastered over every wall and complex scheme models were displayed proudly. Echoing the retailainment theme above, it is not just building designs that are becoming more engaging – architecture itself is being used to create a more emotional experience. Architects from across the globe discussed this at the conference and were acutely aware of their responsibility to reflect changing consumer needs. The result is certainly more sustainable development, but also interactive spaces which encourage people to linger for longer.

As we move towards the festive season and the retail industry’s busiest time of year, a lot of the themes that have been discussed at MAPIC this year will be seen across our towns and cities in the UK. And, although the weather back in Victoria is not quite RayBan worthy, the sentiment in the marked generally is sunnier with the positivity enjoyed at the conference boiling over into the UK market.