Macy’s offerings in-sync with every city’s character makes it a key American product for outbound

In an exclusive interview, Keri Hanson, Marketing Director, Macy’s USA outlined how shopping was a crucial ingredient for the Indian outbound coming to the US shores. She noted that MICE travelers, looking for specific experiences, were coming back as leisure clientele and Macy’s was playing a key role in catering to the tourist experience. An excerpt of the interview: 

Keri Hanson, Marketing Director2

How important is India in terms of numbers? Where does India stand as a source market?

Just to give you an idea of where we are, India in 2015 was 25th most important source market for us. In 2016, in the first quarter, it has already jumped to 22nd position as a source market for Macy’s across the USA; it is about nineteen percent overall growth in the last one year. We are, primarily, witnessing the largest growth in numbers in New York. We are up about twenty-nine percent in traffic since last year, in terms of Indian customers coming to our visitors’ centre. So, it has become one of our top focus markets, and we really feel that India is on the verge of exploding as far as tourism into the USA is concerned.

What is the profile of the Indian outbound? In terms of segment, where does MICE and leisure stand? How do they compare?

We see a lot of group tours, MICE programs coming into our key cities, such as New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Interestingly, we are also seeing rise in the numbers of repeat visitors who are looking to back to the USA for second or third holiday. They are looking at destinations like Miami, Chicago and Florida, and coming with their families. So, we are seeing the Indian customer evolve and become much more sophisticated, and willing to see newer destinations that are outside of the group experience.  MICE clientele will remain key to the USA inbound and, especially, to the Macy’s. The Indian market is where China was a decade ago, which started with large number of group travelers, maturing to a larger number of independent travelers, later moving exclusively towards the FITs. We witness a similar trajectory with the Indian market and that is precisely why we are here in India.

Could you elaborate on the experience quotient?

We have never done a widespread outreach, come to India and engage with the travel agent community, come up with ways to find extra-value for our Indian clientele. We want them to feel that we are rewarding them for coming in and shop in the world’s largest department store – we are the world’s largest retailer of American brands. So, travelers have the choice of choosing from diverse brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger under one roof. It is difficult to emulate similar experience in another shopping outlet; the experience of shopping is simply unique.

How big is shopping in terms of the overall tourism experience? What role does Macy’s play?

Our stores are often located in the city-centre. So, if you are coming to New York, staying in Times Square, Macy’s is an easy walk down the street. We work a lot with our neighbors like the Empire State Building, it is just a block away from us, so there is just so much to see and do right around the Macy’s store. So, we would want people to visit us and experience everything we have to offer.

How do Indian and China compare as source markets for Macy’s?

I think we are a different era of technology altogether. What is coming out of India, now, is an amazing array of start-up companies, both, in Mumbai and Delhi. Also, there is such an entrepreneurial spirit in the Indian business community to provide all types of travel value. So, when we compare India and China as source markets, we are comparing between 2006 and 2016. Technology has just evolved by nature, having said that, there is huge interest in the FITs segment in using mobile based applications, going for online price comparison and wanting to opt for app-based services. This market just was not there when it came to China, mostly because the related infrastructure and technology simply was not there; now, it is all mobile-first. So, we are witnessing India skip the traditional trajectory of transformation and take to mobile platforms.  It becomes important, therefore, to develop services for the customer on the move, who wants information and related research figures right-away on their phones. If one is not developing services to attract these consumers, they will lose out on Indian clientele.

Can you share with us some key insights into the Indian travelers’ engagements?

Indian consumer is very discerning, constantly looking for, both, quality and value. It is where Macy’s provides a lot of traction for the Indian outbound.  Customers shopping with us recognize that we have stores like the one in NY – it is an eleven floor shopping complex – is one fantastic shopping experience. As I said, they have extremely high-end brands, but when you come to Las Vegas, it is a different type of store with a different experience on offer. So, each time one comes to Macy’s and each city one visits, it is a new experience. They might offer same brands, but a lot of our merchandise is exclusive to us. For instance, you might not find a similar hand-bag you like in any other Macy’s.

Therefore, offerings are unique. We are able to deliver the experience of shopping wherein each of Macy’s outlet has something unique in stored for shoppers. Our stores lend to the profile of the city they are based in. So, San Francisco is a causal, relaxed city and our stores reflect that vibe. Obviously, being some distance away, Indian outbound stays in the USA longer. It is ten-fourteen days on an average, allowing them to really explore and move across the coast. So, they do frequent famed destinations like NY, Niagara Falls, Washington DC and Florida.

Why not consider opening a Macy’s store in India?

We now have online shipping on website purchases. We hope to open our first store outside of the USA in Abu Dhabi in 2018. We will take stock of the response and then take it further. As of now, we have no such plans of entering India.

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