The way lifestyle brands approach their physical real estate strategy is changing. As sales have shifted online, brands have begun to utilize their physical presence to deepen their relationship with the consumer, share their story, showcase their products, and ultimately fuel (online) sales.
This strategy is not just being deployed across conventional retail space, we’re beginning to see consumer brands in multifamily, hospitality (hotels/restaurants), and the condo business as well.
Multifamily, until recently, was a relatively commoditized product that competed on price and location. That’s changing. As the multifamily industry has evolved and become more institutionalized, lifestyle brands outside the industry have entered the space. Life Time Athletics recently launched Life Time Living, with apartment developments in FL, NV, and Dallas. Life Time Living will incorporate their athletic club, spa, restaurants, and co-working concepts into their new apartments.
For Life Time, these new communities serve as a tool to further brand loyalty and attract consumers who work out, eat, and get their hair done at Life Time, which is their true business. Residents will have access to all 140 Life Time destinations.
In the hospitability space, which has always been more brand-focused, lifestyle brands Restoration Hardware, Shinola, West Elm, and Atari among others are developing their own concepts.
Restoration Hardware entered the hospitality space with restaurants in their showrooms and they’re now taking it a step further, opening a 14-room boutique hotel in the Meatpacking District. West Elm is developing 5 new boutique hotels, starting with cool 18-hour cities like Portland, Oakland, Detroit, and Minneapolis. Shinola opened its own boutique hotel in Detroit and Atari, the video game pioneer, is opening 8 hotels.
The primary goal of these companies isn’t to operate a successful hotel. These physical outposts allow brands to further develop their relationships with consumers and show the market what their brand stands for.
Let’s take the Shinola, for example. Here’s how they describe the Shinola brand and hotel:
What started as a watch company in 2011 has grown to be so much more. Shinola is a Detroit-based luxury design brand with an unwavering commitment to making lasting things—from timepieces to leather goods, jewelry to audio. The brand is rooted in celebrating the appreciation of quality products and experiences, and it’s exactly why the company had an early desire to create a place where visitors and locals could get lost in the wonder of thoughtful design.
The hotel itself is a restoration of two early 1900 industrial buildings located in the city’s historic Woodward shopping district. It includes a ‘timeless sense of style, approachable service, and an obsession with quality craftsmanship.’ These buzzwords align perfectly with the company’s brand.
Regardless of your opinion of Shinola as a company and their products, people who wear a Shinola watch or stay at the Shinola hotel are making a statement about who they are and what they believe in. Seth Godin says that “a brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” For Shinola, the hotel is another way to share that story and build that relationship.
As online sales grow and our relationship with physical real estate changes, I believe we’ll see more consumer brands partner with developers across asset classes to engage with consumers.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Peloton branded rooms within multifamily fitness centers, the IKEA hotel, or a Delta co-working space.
What do you think?