Exceeding Expectations

December 2, 2020

Originally published by WWD Studios

After a multi-year redevelopment that set the standard for new ways to approach luxury retailing, Scottsdale Fashion Square is forging ahead with a simple formula for success: collaborating with retailers to deliver exactly what customers want and need.

This approach requires exceeding shopper experiences, redefining the boundaries of luxury to match consumer demographics and then offering the best brand presentations imaginable. Here, Michael Guerin, Executive Vice President of Leasing at Macerich, the owner/operator of Scottsdale Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Ariz., shares insights into this approach and the importance of collaboration as well as the future of the new luxury experience.

WWD: After Scottsdale Fashion Square essentially reinvented the luxury shopping experience last year, how has it evolved?

Michael Guerin: Scottsdale Fashion Square is a reimagination of traditional luxury retailing that has elevated and enhanced the way shoppers experience luxury — in an inclusive and exclusive way. Scottsdale Fashion Square is a premier shopping destination showcasing 240 specialty retail stores and restaurants, and includes office space as well. It features the top retail brands you’d expect such as Neiman Marcus, Gucci and Nordstrom, but is also home to Apple, Golden Goose and Hublot with dining options that include Nobu, Ocean 44, and Francine.

We’ve tailored Scottsdale Fashion Square’s offerings to those who live in the area, which is an evolving demographic – and one of the most affluent in the U.S. Our shoppers, which include every high-income segment from Millennial professionals to global jetsetters, are tech-savvy and demanding.  So our retail brand presentations are positioned to appeal to the next generation luxury consumer as well as the traditional high-end customer.

This is luxury shopping at its best: exclusive brands in an inclusive environment that delights, surprises and challenges our customers.

WWD: Yes, but what made Scottsdale Fashion Square succeed?

M.G.: Our success was achieved by analyzing two primary areas: demographic and psychographic data. But it is more than just about crunching the numbers. The evolution of Scottsdale Fashion Square and its success was born out of a deep understanding of the customer, and then curating a retail brand mix that meets their needs and satiates their wants.

The result is a well-planned and executed retail, dining and entertainment offering that includes heritage brands, best-in-class department stores, cutting edge culinary experiences, and flagship branding as well as entertainment and theater.

Every step the shopper makes through Scottsdale Fashion Square is a memorable journey expressed by brands such as Bottega Veneta, Industrious, Apple, lululemon and more. And every brand adds a layer of texture and purpose to that experience. All of it drives emotion and creating a multi-dimensional shopping experience that is unmatched.

WWD: Even during the recent pandemic?

M.G.: Yes. Success in retail, now more than ever, demands that brick and mortar and digital work side-by-side. 

The brands at Scottsdale Fashion Square are doing that, and more. From a Macerich perspective, we took a thoughtful approach to assess the needs from both our consumers and brands, and we delivered what we said we would: best in class and choice — the best presentations.

Even now, during this time, Versace and Golden Goose saw utility in opening up physical spaces in Scottsdale because they are keenly aware of the demand that exists for their products.

WWD: As you look at the current tenant mix, what type of brands would make a good fit? What do customers crave?

M.G.: Our shoppers crave brands, and what the brands bring is dictated by the customer. Shoppers want choice, experience, and they want to be surprised. They want an emotional connection to the brand. And the brands at Scottsdale Fashion Square deliver because they intimately know their shoppers. 

It also works because we understand, respect and nurture the symbiotic relationship between the brand, the customer, and the landlord. To the consumer, it is one channel, and it is cohesive. If we look at top-line volume (pre-redevelopment through to present), overall sales are up between 25 and 30 percent. But that alone is not a measure of success.

For us, it is maintaining this reciprocity and fulfilling our promise to offer choice and beautiful aesthetics, and inclusive/exclusive brands that delight our customers. That is real success. 

WWD: Scottsdale Fashion Square is not "static," so how do you see it evolving over the next year?

M.G.: We will continue to evolve and exceed expectations with a collection of brands that have been meticulously chosen to be here. This includes Apple as a flagship anchor presence and lululemon’s flagship expansion and Bulgari’s recent new presentation, which is one of only two store impressions of its kind in the world.  

We couldn’t think of a better addition to Scottsdale Fashion Square’s roster of prestige LVMH brands than Dior, joining the many global names of LVMH family of Houses within our center. It makes perfect sense for LVMH to continue to choose Scottsdale Fashion Square for new and expanded locations to connect with the region’s growing set of luxury shoppers.

As we look forward, we will remain fluid and continue to collaborate with retailers to offer best-in-class shopping experiences.  In the context of the broader retail market, Scottsdale Fashion Square showcases that the right retail in the right market can thrive. Retail — especially luxury retail — is evolving and changing into something wholly new and unexpected, which is what you see at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

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