International Brands Excelling at GGP Properties

How GGP sets international brands up for success in American markets

Brands that have achieved success in their domestic markets often look internationally to grow their business. However, this expansion can be challenging because each market has its own unique retail and marketing environment. We spoke to members of GGP’s Retail Development and Business Intelligence & Strategy teams to find out more about how their expertise can help international brands succeed.

GGP’s Senior Director of Business Intelligence & Strategy, Anna Hight Baskin, says: “Operationally, the scale of the United States can be really challenging. Brands need to understand how to achieve economies of scale for their supply chain, given our highway infrastructure and the size of the country. Brand awareness in a market as competitive as the US can also be hard, so brands need to be prepared to invest in their marketing strategy to be successful.”

GGP’s Retail Development Director, Jenin Musa, adds: “We often advise brands who are expanding internationally to do so on a regional basis. As Anna says, the scale of the U.S. means that opening coast to coast can be too much of a stretch for a brand in the early stages of its international growth.”

UK-based clothing and lifestyle brand, Superdry, considers the United States to be an emerging market for its company. It now has a presence in four GGP-owned retail centers in the U.S., and we are working closely to identify new markets to position the brand for continued growth. Outdoor apparel brand Roots Canada is also partnering with GGP to expand its U.S. presence.

GGP has demonstrated success in working with many international brands to build their presence in the United States. Our deep understanding of the U.S. retail environment helps us select the best markets and properties for each specific new market entrant. 

Read on to learn more about how we position brands for success with their target consumers. 

Curation of Trends

As retail centers continue to evolve, international entertainment concepts are also bringing their offerings to the U.S. We expect more lifestyle, leisure and entertainment, and even food and beverage brands, to follow suit in the coming years.

Talking about the brands that find a home in GGP retail centers, Jenin Musa comments: “We work hard to carefully curate the merchandising mix at each of our centers, ensuring that each one has the very best combination of retail, leisure and entertainment brands for the environment in which it operates. By doing this, we’re able to turn our properties into repeat destinations for consumers, therefore benefitting both international and domestic tenants.”

Anna Hight Baskin says that specific brand attributes have contributed to the success of international concepts in recent years. “Many international brands spanning price points and categories have demonstrated great success in the US, like Zara, Asos, Gucci, and Lululemon. Concepts with stores that deliver on their brand promise and that know how to build a relationship with their customers are generally successful: beauty brands that open independently or through retailers such as Ulta or Sephora are good examples of this.”

Location, Location, Location

For a brand considering its first move into the U.S. market, choosing the right location is essential. Often, international brands will begin with street retail locations in gateway markets including New York, Chicago, LA and Las Vegas. Japanese-owned fashion label, Uniqlo opened its first GGP owned flagship store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in 2015. As brand awareness for this Japanese fashion label has grown, our Business Intelligence and Strategy Team has provided location analysis to aid the selection of positions in a number of retail centers nationwide. This includes a new flagship store that’s due to open in Hawaii’s Ala Moana center later this year.

GGP's consumer knowledge also plays a key role in choosing the best location for a brand to debut its U.S. offering. Jenin Musa comments: “We can help brands look outside the traditional gateway markets. Whilst a brand might be excited about the prospect of opening on 5th Avenue, alternative locations may be a better fit.” Even the weather can be a consideration in deciding where to open: “Brands will often have more success in a location with a climate more comparable to their home market. For example, Australian brands may find a more natural fit in Texas or California.”

Our in-depth consumer knowledge and specialized analysis also plays a key role when partnering with a brand to identify the best locations. “We leverage demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal analysis to identify a core consumer profile for each brand,” says Anna Hight Baskin. “We can then map a brand’s core consumers across the United States to find markets with attractive density of their core consumer. The BI&S team then incorporates property and category sales performance, plus shopper draw to identify the best locations for a new brand. Our goal is to create a true partnership in which both our retailers and our centers are poised for long-term success.”

Support at every stage of the process

Talking about the partnerships GGP forms with brands, Jenin Musa comments: “We’re able to offer international brands turnkey solutions when they open at a GGP property. By building a relationship with them we’re able to help in the selection of service providers for everything from staffing to legal issues, removing some of the barriers to entry that may daunt an international brand."

Anna Hight Baskin adds: “We’re also able to add value through our property strategy – we’re actively investing in the sustainability, aesthetics and merchandising mix of our retail centers, making sure that they are relevant and compelling for current and future generations of consumers.”

Moving a brand to an international market does not have to incur particularly high levels of investment. The flexible opportunities provided at many GGP-owned retail centers include options for short-term leases, pop-up stores or even kiosks, allowing a brand to gauge marketplace potential without the investment of a full launch.

“Our pop-up leasing solutions can give a brand the opportunity to test a market without making the commitment to a long-term lease and full store buildout,” says Jenin Musa. “We’re here to guide brands through the whole process.” Some international brands that have proven international success may want to explore the option to move directly into repurposed anchor spaces; Mexican entertainment brand, Kidzania, will open at two GGP-owned U.S. locations over the next two years.

Spanish fashion retailer Zara has enjoyed considerable success in the American market since its launch in 1989. It now has stores at 17 GGP-owned locations, with an 18th recently announced at the SoNo Collection in Norwalk, Connecticut. We provide ongoing support to this brand though a range of marketing tools, including in-mall advertising, media outreach, social media and influencer marketing and in-store events.

When it comes to new store openings, GGP also provides customized assistance. GGP hosts more than 2,000 new store openings each year, and the company's Retailer Partnerships team applies its unique understanding of industry trends and retailer needs to enhance and complement brand messaging through digital, local and cross-promotional support.

Whether domestic or international, GGP has the breadth of market knowledge to help brands identify the best locations and expansion strategies. Our marketing expertise plays a valuable role in helping companies achieve success in a new retail environment. 

Contact us to talk about how we can work with you to fulfill your retail growth targets.

About GGP

GGP is a real estate company focused exclusively on owning, managing, leasing, and redeveloping high-quality retail properties throughout the United States. We own and operate best-in-class retail properties that provide an outstanding environment and experience for our communities, retailers, employees, consumers and shareholders.