Hello Nathalie! Our latest format is actually called “3 Questions for …”, but in our first issue we are glad to make an exception for you and give you a “bonus question” to start with. Could you briefly introduce yourself, please?
NL: I’d love to! My name is Nathalie Lohaus and I have been Head of Commercial Partnerships at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Germany since March 2019. My team and I take care of all special lettings outside of our regular shops in the centers. This includes partnerships and which new cooperations might benefit us and our malls. Two of our focal points are “Mall Retail” and “Brand Experience”. We initiate pop-up concepts – new, innovative and short-term events in the malls – and coordinate their implementation, create brand experiences and manage numerous media campaigns – both digital and on stationary advertising space.
That sounds like a very exciting and varied day-to-day job. Which “brand experience” really surprised you?
NL: There are definitely two things that have really surprised – in new German: “flashed” me. On the one hand, the Netflix installation that we were able to acquire as a customer in Centro Oberhausen in December 2019. Not only because it was very large and elaborate and since I am a big Netflix fan myself, but also because it showed once again that a brand that performs very well online can also deliver great live brand experiences and that it wants to!
A second positive example: The National Geographic magazine – a print medium that actually has little contact with the retail trade – created an installation last year that ran completely without promoters and had different worlds designed for the visitor’s experience. I was very impressed by the extremely positive response to these two fundamentally different approaches.
How can stationary and online retail be combined in the best possible way through your events?
NL: Again, Netflix is a very good example. Even though people are shopping more online than ever before, many customers still want to be able to touch, smell and see these and other products in real life. The toxic green racing car from the film “6 Underground” is an example of this – only thanks to this promotional campaign could visitors really experience the Netflix world up close and not just in front of their screens at home.
Basically, we are of the opinion that online is certainly very good and important, but the combination of buying and also trying things out simply only exists live and cannot be replaced. Thanks to this combination our malls also offer the advantage that they attract many people who are not only in a shopping mood but also looking for inspiration.
Why exactly is this “brand experience” so important?
A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are changing as people. Not only has our social life shifted to a large extent to the virtual world – nowadays there is almost nothing we can’t order from the comfort of our couch at home. It used to be completely normal for us to go shopping three times a year and then that was it. Now it’s completely different.
When people go shopping today, they usually want to experience something. They want to collect and combine as many impressions and experiences as possible in the short time they have available – this is precisely the unique and up-close “experience” we offer visitors to our malls. And brands are also realizing more and more that it is simply no longer enough to simply advertise a new product on a poster – customers want to be engaged with all their senses!