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A new day is dawning for retail and leisure [Katapult at MAPIC 2019]

As the sun emerged from the sea on Tuesday morning, MAPIC began it’s first-ever Leisure Day, and we were there to witness it first hand.

2019 saw 900 delegates gather for the new Leisure Day at MAPIC, Cannes. Hosted the day before the main event kicked off the Leisure Day brought together leisure operators & suppliers, brand owners & media, urban planners & cities, architects, retailers & property developers.

The tide is turning

There’s no doubt the world of retail and leisure are colliding and combining. The feel of the conference was one of optimism and energy. Retailers were starting to understand the leisure dynamic and open up to leisure industry experts like Katapult.

Leisure was predicted to be 50% of the retail mix in the next few years and that growth will be fuelled by themed attractions, wellness, F&B and entertainment. LDP gave a great overview of the market and we loved their note of caution:

The worst reason to add leisure to retail is to fill space

Who’s ripping it up already?

Authenticity was highlighted as the key factor for success by Dan Pelson of Area 15, due to open early 2020 in Las Vegas. He made it clear that having a real understanding of your market was a must, then matching that to a unique and exciting offer that feels authentic is the next natural step. Just pretending isn’t going to cut it anymore, fake marketing won’t cut it anymore, not getting the details right won’t cut it anymore. Be true to your concept!

Andreas Anderson added some top-level thinking. What you’re selling is not what your customer is buying was his mantra. He said that customers buy emotions, not a product or service. Our leisure industry enables customers to fulfil a fundamental need to be together. That experience, according to Andreas, is very much a multi-sensory one, hearing the live music, tasting popcorn, gripping the handrail on a ride. At Liseberg, he says, they don’t offer near-death thrill experiences, they offer near-life experiences.

Meeting with retailers, estate owners, developers and investors at MAPIC gave us an insight into their mindset. It’s one of exploration. How can leisure work for me? In my space? With my customers? There is definitely curiosity but we were left unsure as to the level of commitment and bravery in the retail sector. Retailers still spoke about porting leisure offers in, with a kind of plug and play style, despite most speakers saying this was not the right approach.

Catch the wave

So, the future will happen to the retail sector and it will incorporate a much larger mix of leisure, the question is which retailers will ride the crest of that wave and which will be left stranded on the beach?

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