Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

How to get the low down on the high street / Matthew Hopkinson, The Local Data Company

Insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. Evidence based insight – Ignore it at your peril!  (Wikipedia) / Matthew Hopkinson a director of The Local Data Company writes …

In times of change ‘primary data’ takes on a new significance for occupiers, investors, lenders and government. There is a management mantra that says ‘what gets measured gets done’ and from my own experience it is fundamental for any business to follow. Data, statistics and figures are all terms that for most are an area to be avoided or left to accountants and statisticians. Time and technology have moved on to a point now that to not understand and utilize available data in the market puts you at a serious disadvantage and indeed risk.

The main caveat is that in order to create valuable insight, the data needs to be current, comprehensive and be transparent in its collection methodology and aggregation. As with any product the ‘source of origin’ is a critical attribute.

Local Data Company (LDC) is a technology company that collects data and who are building a unique online offer that enables you to EXPLORE – ANALYSE – BENCHMARK, be it their data of their third party data partners.

LDC this month releases the second phase (Analyse) with ‘Dashboards’.  The first phase, which has been in existence since 2008, was its Explorer tool that enables search on over 2,700 locations and 500,000 businesses with fixed analysis on vacancy rates, classification mix, independent v multiple (chains) ratios and occupancy by number, location and property type (town centre, shopping centre, retail park or stand alone). Who, where and when are the key insights with this tool.

Dashboards aggregates the millions of records and attributes to deliver instant analysis of a geography, a company/fascia or a business type. Instant analysis is what the market now demands and with this new tool you can analyse quantitative and qualitative indictors with historical change in one online tool as well as toggle between number of units or percentage change.

To understand a retail centre there are a wide number of attributes available but essentially we filter these down to Environment, Drivers and Online presence.

Environment This dashboard gives one a top level understanding of the occupancy and vacancy rates and most importantly it analyses it in the context of the in-town versus out of town retail centres. This shows you the choice that the consumer has when visiting a retail centre. With the growth of out of town settlements this is increasingly significant alongside the growth of out of town retail.

Drivers This dashboard looks at the key dynamics across the retail centres in the Environment dashboard. It looks at the churn (openings and closures), the quality of offer, its vacancy rate relative to other towns and the current health as well as direction of travel of a centre. It then looks at some of the key business types and their annual change, which can then be broken down by fascia and just importantly the locations of those fascia, be it in the town centre, on a retail park, in a shopping centre or stand alone.

Online interest 56% of consumers now own a smartphone and over 75% of people research online before buying instore. 59% of people have a social media profile, which means that understanding online activity is a key attribute. We have broken this down into looking at the Google levels of interest and the key news items driving that interest. If this is positive then you are likely to see more footfall but if it is negative then you will see less. Perception is all important here and something that retail centres must understand. Finally, we look at detailed searches on consumer websites that show what business types consumers have been searching and then most importantly which ones they click through to. Here a lack of search success due to a lack of business types in an area can be a key indicator to a mismatch in offer.

The next stage will be ‘Benchmark’, which will enable peer review but will also bring together other third party data in the areas of planning, economics, occupancy costs and transactional activity. Taking this jigsaw approach makes it very clear which issues a retail centre faces, be it at the street level or the more strategic level of investment, planning and consumer perception.

Without such insight, cause and effect of what is happening is impossible and at such a critical time for the sector it is something that is very much required.



Matthew Hopkinson is a director of The Local Data Company and the views expressed are his own.




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