Dear David,

The Westchester was my local mall growing up in New York, and I have fond memories visiting it both when I just wanted to wander and when I knew what I wanted to buy. When I would traverse its multiple wings and floors, there was always a buzz of activity.

But in recent years, many of those original feelings and experiences are harder to find in my visits. Experiments like The Edit are good steps in the right direction. But there is plenty more to be done to bring The Westchester and many of your other properties back to their glory days.

Here’s one idea.  

Build a B2C brand that pays B2B dividends.

Most digitally-native brands are in desperate need of quality customers they can acquire at affordable prices. While many thought it would be inexpensive to market to customers online, many of these brands are seeing costs rise significantly—which for some, is an inconvenience, and for others, is detrimental to their entire business model. These companies, well-versed in brand building and marketing, are for the first time seriously looking at retail as a major growth channel.

Malls, on the other hand, have always found mixed results when it comes to branding. To other businesses and tenants in the retail space, companies like Simon are known as high-quality mall operators, but the names resonate much less with shoppers.

In the old days, shoppers would go to the mall to visit the stores inside of it, such as the Apple Store or Neiman Marcus, more than they were visiting the mall itself. But today, as we move increasingly to a fragmented, item driven world, many younger brands don’t have the wide resonance that bigger legacy brands did. While they know how to talk to the young shoppers you want to attract, they need help driving lots of traffic to their stores.

You have a massive opportunity to take what Simon means on the B2B side and make it mean as much, if not more, to shoppers. This means building a consumer-facing brand that gets shoppers into Simon properties because you operate them. This requires helping younger brands drive foot traffic to their stores, aligning with their brands in terms of values and aesthetics, and marketing with them online and offline. This will be a massive draw for younger brands, who will be more inclined to work with you and use your properties to expand their retail footprints as they grow.

As the internet consumes more of our lives and gives everyone more choices than ever before, B2B companies need to increasingly act like consumer brands, paying attention to the needs of their customers, aesthetics and public perception. This will have important effects on your leasing business, in addition to fostering the entire digitally-native brand ecosystem, which is crucial for the future of online and offline retail.

This is just one idea among many others that could put Simon at the forefront of retail’s next chapter. Let me know if you’d like to hear more.

Richie Siegel
Founder and CEO
Loose Threads