Pandemic pressures. How is this relationship-focused approach relevant to luxury’s Midwestern expansion? The pandemic shifted where and how luxury customers shopped. Many who regularly traveled to New York, Los Angeles, or Europe to visit flagships were forced to look closer to home.
As a result, these individuals have found they value the personal connection and service received when relationships are established with local sales associates. Building a consistent connection helps shoppers home in on their preferences and get insider tips on new products.
Columbus demographics. If the pandemic reinforced the fact that luxury brands need to meet their customers where they are, the nationwide growth of the segment reflects that there is an untapped population of affluent customers in cities across the Midwest. Ohio has been a hotbed of luxury growth, and the epicenter of that growth has been Columbus. Not only has Columbus experienced impressive growth in the last decade, but it’s an accurate economic indicator for Middle America and a dynamic test market for retailers.
From Fintech and investment to healthcare and aerospace, that economic diversity yields a broad demographic profile that encompasses blue-collar rust belt farmers and white-collar corporate professionals. For luxury retailers looking to enter the Midwest, Columbus creates a uniquely appealing and well-suited opportunity to test concepts and products.
The Gateway. Easton’s reputation as the “Gateway to the Midwest” for luxury and coastal brands looking to expand is well-earned. With 30 million annual visitors from across the region, retailers have access to a confluence of consumers and an atmosphere that is welcoming to established and experimental brands, pop-ups and digital natives. Luxury retailers have noticed. Gucci recently opened its first Ohio location in Easton, joining iconic brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, and Tory Burch. Amazon Style also recently opened its second location nationally at Easton bringing contemporary brands like Vince, Theory, Equipment, Paul Smith, and many other exciting names.
Easton’s luxury success is emblematic of the segment’s growing traction in the region. As luxury brands tap into a brand-focused consumer base with money to spend and new reasons to spend it closer to home, the strong growth of luxury in the Midwest is exciting, but not surprising.
Spencer Jordan is senior VP of leasing for Columbus-based Steiner + Associates, the co-owner, developer, and manager of the award-winning Easton Town Center. Jordan can be reached at [email protected].