Interview: Shane Eldstrom

To what extent are consumer trends fuelling growth in Qatar’s luxury retail market?

SHANE ELDSTROM: Growth in the luxury retail market is reflecting the desire for personalised experiences and sustainable, high-quality products. Qatar’s evolving demographics, characterised by a young and affluent population and a large expatriate community, provide an ideal environment for growth. The introduction of new offerings at Place Vendôme Mall has helped to address existing demand and attract new interest.

How can retailers stand out amid the proliferation of shopping malls across the country and region?

ELDSTROM: In an increasingly competitive landscape, retailers strive for distinction by developing unique customer experiences. This involves providing exclusive products, integrating technology for seamless omni-channel interactions and personalising services. Additionally, retailers can enhance their visibility by hosting events that celebrate local traditions and the arts. Through these strategies, retailers can foster a distinctive brand identity that resonates with consumers in a crowded marketplace.

What steps can Qatar’s retail sector take to help diversify its customer base?

ELDSTROM: To reduce dependence on local customers, Qatar’s retail sector can elevate its position as a tourism shopping destination in the Middle East. Retailers can capitalise on the country’s burgeoning reputation for tourism – particularly with events like the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the annual Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix taking place in the country – to draw a more diverse international clientele. Hosting such events directs customers towards national hospitality offerings, featuring a high-quality mix of hotels and restaurants. Place Vendôme’s collaboration with Visit Qatar and luxury brands in 2023 to host Chinese influencers is an example of stakeholder collaboration in promoting Qatar’s retail environment. This initiative underscores our dedication to positioning the country as a leading global luxury destination to an international audience.

How are traditional retailers leveraging e-commerce and emerging digital tools?

ELDSTROM: The adoption of e-commerce by retailers in Qatar varies, but a notable trend among local businesses is leveraging social media as a primary marketing tool. This strategy proves particularly effective in reaching the domestic audience, which has a strong presence on these platforms. Retailers employ targeted campaigns and interactive content to harness the extensive reach of social media in order to enhance brand visibility and foster customer engagement.

Where do you identify opportunities for mall developers to encourage sustainable practices?

ELDSTROM: Mall developers can play a pivotal role in promoting sustainability by engaging with tenants on multiple levels. For instance, Place Vendôme has instituted a policy that all retailers must obtain certification through the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). This ensures that all operations at Place Vendôme – which is itself GSAS certified – adhere to high standards of sustainability, from design and construction to the day-to-day activities of tenants.

In what ways can luxury retailers broaden their domestic market presence and product offerings?

ELDSTROM: Luxury retailers have substantial opportunities to expand in the domestic market, particularly in exclusive niche segments. A robust waiting list of luxury retailers at Place Vendôme reflects clear demand for premium space. On the product side, we foresee potential for enhanced collaboration and localised offerings aligned with customer preferences. As the market develops, the growth of sought-after product allocations can help to meet demand for scarce items.