Rouse joins in marketing data partnership Alliance is formed with Research International USA

Marketing trends

July 14, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The Rouse Co. unveiled yesterday a partnership with a New York research company that will give consumer product companies access to its malls and customers.

The alliance with Research International USA aims to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the Columbia-based mall developer and provide Rouse with continually updated information and market data about its customers, building on a similar link Rouse made in April with WPP Group PLC, Research International's London-based parent.

With Research International, Rouse intends to survey hundreds of thousands of customers and gain insight into their shopping desires and needs.

Research International will invest up to $2 million to establish and conduct the customer surveys via the Internet, on the telephone or in Rouse malls.

"One of the things that excites us about Rouse is that they have all these marketing targets on their properties," said Doss Struse, Research International's chairman and chief executive. "They have unique access to these people, and with Rouse we see the possibility of national marketing programs."

In all, the two companies expect to survey more than 100,000 consumer households who sign up for Rouse's Premier Shopping Club at kiosks in the developer's malls. The club, an interactive shopping experience that gives shoppers exclusive offers, discounts and special services, has more than 500,000 members nationwide who visit Rouse's shopping centers each week.

"Rouse has to anticipate retail trends, and to the extent that their real estate is exposed to erosion from technology or can be linked with technology to enhance sales, that's where market research comes in," said David M. Fick, a senior analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. who tracks Rouse's malls. At the heart of the agreement between Rouse and Research International, beverage, snack food, automobile, telecommunications and other companies would pay the partnership to give away products, test market new goods and display goods coming onto the market. Rouse and Research International will evenly split any proceeds from the venture, which the two companies hope to have up and running next year.

Research International will approach companies with detailed demographic data and opportunities to offer their products to Rouse customers in malls nationwide. The venture comes as various mall owners -- including Rouse competitor Simon DeBartolo Group -- are developing ways to market their space and use the captive audience of shoppers to generate revenue beyond rent.

Rouse's agreement comes as its portfolio of properties is growing. Last week the company signed a definitive agreement with Toronto-based TrizecHahn Corp. to buy seven malls -- including Towson Town Center -- for $1.1 billion.

"We've spent more than 40 years developing this distribution channel, and we see this as a way to capitalize on the investment we've already made," said Warren Wilson, a Rouse PTC vice president and director of the company's site strategy division. Wilson added that Rouse intends to be careful "so as not to annoy our customers."

"The trend is to look at customers as an asset that needs to be taken care of and we're doing that," Wilson said. "At the same time, there's revenue to be gained from nonshopping experiences."

Pub Date: 7/14/98

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