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Leveraging the power of quantitative research tailored to customer and tenant sentiment

Top takes:

  • Retail and commercial property owners can continue to sustain operations at this time of crisis, by innovating and adapting to customer sentiment
  • However, misinformation and reactive decision-making is resulting in property owners failing to seize valuable opportunities and jettison business longevity
  • “The COVID-19 Business Impact Tracker” (C-BIT) – is a research product that tracks the sentiment of tenants and customers during the current crisis. Developed by Brickfields Consulting and Skyfii, the insights uncovered will allow property owners to be in control of their decisions, reduce risk and take hold of future opportunities as they arise.

It’s an understatement to say we are living in highly uncertain times. The global COVID-19 pandemic has seen property owners, tenants and their customers responding in extreme ways – understandably motivated by fear, and a desire to manage risk and self-sustainability. Equally, such times are also catalysts for innovation and seizing new market opportunities. In other sectors we’ve witnessed fine-dining restaurants transition to takeaway services, music festivals move to live-streaming, distilleries producing hand-sanitiser, and city councils waiving rents, levies and permit fees to support local businesses. It is truly a time to act on market need to support your own business and the wider community.

The property owners who will profit at this time are those who understand exactly how the crisis is impacting their specific audience, customer or tenant – and meet them with a meaningful response. This poses a challenge, where misinformation, panic and reactive decision-making are rife. An ability to review the facts ­– then innovate and adapt from an informed position – can mean the difference between shutting shop and keeping the doors open (provided legislation does not enforce otherwise).

To equip retail and commercial property owners with accurate and tailored data for these times, Brickfields Consulting, in collaboration with Skyfii, have designed the COVID-19 Business Impact Tracker (C-BIT). This research product tracks the sentiment of tenants and customers on a monthly basis. The insights uncovered will add certainty during this period of immense change – allowing property owners to be in control of their decisions, reduce risk and take hold of future opportunities as they arise.

In regard to retail centres, the survey has revealed an optimistic outlook, with 31.7 per cent of customers wanting to keep all locations open with precautionary measures, and only 19.6 per cent wanting all locations temporarily closed. However, owners must adapt their centre experience and communications to turn the tide on dissatisfied and indifferent customers. This is marked by 16 per cent of respondents indicating that they were not satisfied at all by the actions of their centre of choice in response to COVID-19. Further to this, 26.9 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Likewise 19.1 per cent of customers found their centre’s communications did not meet their expectations, again with a significant proportion saying the centre met their expectations “somewhat well” (34.5 per cent). These insights are critical at a time where customers are anxious and will transfer their loyalty to centres that support them – or are feeling indifferent and could be met with an inspired experience.

If you’re a retail or commercial property owner interested in the C-BIT survey, the following outlines the data you can expect to capture and actions you can take in response.

What data C-BIT will provide

  • How your current tenants have adjusted their behaviours to suit the COVID-19 requirements
  • What direct impacts COVID-19 is having on your customers’ businesses and the financial capacity to meet their requirements
  • How you can better support your customers/tenants to help retain them long term
  • How your customers benchmark against your competitors’ customers

What this data will allow you to do

  • Minimise risk from the downturn by identifying exposed tenants/assets
  • Support key tenants through this period of significant change
  • Take action informed by how your portfolio compares to others within the market
  • Prepare for the market rebound by identifying how best to manage the recovery