SINGAPORE (Dec 25): CapitaLand Mall Asia, the retail property arm of CapitaLand, was on the cusp of fast growth a decade ago. With a huge portfolio of shopping malls scattered across Asia at different stages of development, the unit was a potent play on the region’s growing wealth. In fact, CMA was spun off as a separately listed entity in 2009 for it to directly tap the capital markets to fuel its fast growth.

Now, CMA is once more a wholly- owned unit of CapitaLand after being taken private in 2014 and aggressively experimenting with all manner of ideas to stay relevant in the face of the growing popularity of e-commerce. All in, CMA has a portfolio of 109 shopping malls, held directly as well as through private funds and public listed real estate investment trusts such as CapitaLand Mall Trust and CapitaLand Retail China Trust. CapitaLand itself has an extensive portfolio of serviced residences and offices, which are also facing disruption from companies such as Airbnb and WeWork.

CapitaLand recognised the challenge posed by technology early, and has tried to fight back. In 2011, CMA started the CapitaStar programme, a digital app-driven rewards programme. Tempting shoppers with vouchers and promotions at various malls, CapitaStar was able to methodically record spending habits over the years. It started using this data for targeted marketing in 2015. Now CapitaStar has almost five million members, with almost four million in China alone. With its cache of data, CMA has been able to target its tenants’ marketing campaigns at selected customer segments at times of the year when shoppers spend more.

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