Case Study

Commercial Real Estate Case Study: Cadillac Fairview


Cadillac Fairview is one of North America's largest investors, owners and managers of commercial real estate. For more than 50 years, it has developed and managed office properties and regional shopping centres in Canada and the United States, and has directed international investments in real estate companies and investment funds. Owned by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, it has more than 50 properties across Canada.


With the growth of the Asian and South Asian communities in Canada, many companies are scrambling to better position their locations and merchandise to meet the needs of ethnic consumers. At Cadillac Fairview, the challenge is more urgent. Squeezed by online retailers, upscale merchants and downscale outlet stores, mall managers recognize they need to better understand the tastes of ethnic groups to create the right mix of stores, restaurants and food courts for their properties. “We wanted to illuminate the diversity within the diversity of Canada’s ethnic groups,” said says Kevin Akyeampong, Senior Manager of Market Research at Cadillac Fairview.


Using EA’s PRIZMC2 segmentation system, analysts located areas with high proportions of Chinese and South Asian consumer segments. Environics Research conducted a shopper intercept study in these neighbourhoods to determine residents’ tastes in products, apparel and food. Integrating the PRIZM data with the custom research, analysts created three distinct target groups: Affluent Chinese (middle-aged to mature families), Comfortable Chinese (middle-aged families) and South Asian Families (younger to middle-aged families). The analysis showed each target group possessed different levels of disposable income, shopping patterns and social values. For instance, Affluent Chinese members spend disproportionately more on women’s clothing categories, Comfortable Chinese exhibit above-average expenditures on food and members of South Asian Families score high for buying men’s clothing. “Mall managers were surprised by the findings,” says Akyeampong. “The segmentation really hammered home the different kinds of consumers within an ethnic group. We can’t say that whatever works in Markham will work in Richmond.”


The study’s results have had an impact in many departments at Cadillac Fairview, including operations, leasing and strategic planning. Mall managers are using the shopping preferences of the ethnic target groups to guide their retail mix at company properties. Leasing agents can now approach retailers armed with hard data on the shopping preferences of ethnic groups in their mall trade areas. Marketers are using the results to inform their media strategy and communicate more effectively with different ethnic groups. And company leaders are analyzing the research to better anticipate how the second and third generations of different ethnic groups will behave in the future. “The results were eye-opening,” says Akyeampong. “There are generalizations that everyone in an ethnic group acts the same and shops the same, but we learned that wasn’t the case at all. It allowed us to go to the luxury leather goods retailer Coach and say, ‘You should be here.’”