One Minute With...Clare Harris, Shaftesbury

Event caught up with Clare Harris, head of marketing and communications at London property group Shaftesbury, about creating standalone retail experiences that go beyond discount events.

Clare Harris overseas the marketing of destinations such as Carnaby Street and Seven Dials
Clare Harris overseas the marketing of destinations such as Carnaby Street and Seven Dials

What is the purpose of hosting retail events at your shopping destinations?

With all of our villages [which include Carnaby Street, Seven Dials and Chinatown], throughout the year we’re constantly looking to create events that really support our tenants. It’s about doing things that are fun, free and really connect with our core consumers.

We look at the brands that we have, ask who they are tying to attract and go from there. We’re mindful that the events we host aren’t just discount-driven. Shopping events are popular – but it’s important for us that they aren’t just functional. We see our areas as real social areas so it’s great to do something that builds on that.

You’ve just hosted your Spotlight event at Seven Dials. What was the ROI for that?

It was the second year that we’ve hosted Spotlight and we were up 20% in terms of visitor numbers from last year. I think it was one of the most successful events that we’ve done. We’ve been collecting feedback from our retailers – sales were up and everyone through it was a really positive experience. Footfall was also up 51% from the weekend before.

We close down all of the streets to traffic to create a completely different feel. Most of the stores did something – for instance Fixation held the slowest bike ride with created a really good atmosphere, Finisterre hosted a photography exhibition and Do Shop had live Brazilian music playing in store. It’s such a large area that for us, it’s about placemaking – getting people to understand that the whole place is part of Seven Dials.

Would you ever host an event to market Shaftesbury as a brand?

We think from a customer point of view that the company’s not that sexy to consumers, and we don’t feel it needs to be marketed. Really it’s because we don’t see ourselves simply as one brand – each area we work with has a distinct personality, and our events reflect that.

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