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The event, organized by Texere Advisors and Algebra, brought together brands that have successfully expanded in Asia and experts from the Asian retail landscape, to share experiences, know-how, best practices, and outline the critical success factors of operating in Asia.

The target audience was small and medium retailers with established or emerging brands that are considering developing their presence in Asia or rethinking their current expansion strategy.

Speakers were representatives of retailers such as Paolo Selva of Boggi Milano and Marianna Potocco of Potocco, distributors such as Jason Ahn of Creative Lab, of the academia such as Nicoletta Morozzi of NABA and Michel Phan of Emlyon Business School, and the professional services such as Nicholas Bradstreet of Savills Hong Kong and Andrea Monni of Algebra. The host and moderator was Silvia Sgaravatti of Class Editori.

The three main takeaways of the conference were:

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Asia is a source of global growth for a large number of Western brands. Physical retail is and will always be a significant distribution channel, despite high retail operation costs and pressure on profitability.

Asian consumers often prefer Western products and services over their domestic brands as they are perceived to be of higher quality. However, Asians are also less brand loyal.

Hence, competition amongst Western brands is fierce, and service and in-store experience must continuously evolve to meet clients’ growing expectations and better brand knowledge.

BUSINESS RELATIONS

The second key takeaway was the importance of business relations between brands and their Asian stakeholders.

These relations require time, resources to be established, and rely on mutual trust.

Asian speakers at the conference confirmed the notion, mentioning that they only do business with people that they trust and know in person.

IMPORTANCE OF LOCATION

In Asia, people tend to shop less on the streets and feel more comfortable in malls. Choosing the mall and the location within the mall is, therefore, a crucial step, and building a strong relationship with the landlord is vital for a successful entry.

Successful shopping centers charge high rental costs and have long waiting lists of prospective tenants. Landlords prefer to work with established brands in their domestic markets and select them based on selective criteria such as brand history, heritage, marketing investments, and sales targets.