Centres of attraction

Shopping centres and malls draw crowds throughout the Christmas shopping period. Elena Miles, Commercialisation Executive at Mall Solutions Europe explores the opportunities for brand and IP owners when consumers are in the mood to spend

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 07.12.2018 | Retail

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In an uncertain retail world, shopping centres remain unique destinations that can offer those among us who are tired of dull High Streets or the loneliness of the long-distance online shopper, a richer, more satisfying experience, particularly at Christmas.

Given the increasing effort and investment centres are putting into creating a well-rounded offering with total family appeal, they present brand and licence owners with exciting opportunities to connect with the widest range of audience groups at this peak selling time.

With an average dwell time of 100 minutes, a purchase conversion rate of 82 per cent, and £98 average spend per visit, the statistics speak for themselves — those who visit shopping centres are ready and willing to engage and to buy and this couldn’t be truer than at this time of year.

While finding gifts for others is still the mainstay of a Christmas trip to a shopping centre – toys always loom large on any shopping list – ‘self-treating’ is on the up with more and more people splashing out on presents and experiences for themselves. Our research reveals that for many shoppers, food is now a key seasonal priority with the emphasis very much on festive treats and Christmas dinner. Despite the lower levels of consumer confidence, shoppers will this year spend an estimated £500m more on food than they did in 2016.

All this is why brands in all sectors, from Mercedes and Lexus through to Lego, Ikea and Nintendo, choose to promote themselves and their products at shopping centres.

Whether the aim is to sell directly, generate buzz though launch events, or gather immediate feedback from real customers without the expense of separate trials, shopping centres possess a flexible infrastructure (kiosks, signage and multi-level space) that can be tailored to meet those requirements.

Christmas retail success is always dependent on tapping into the trends that currently resonate. This year, some of the hot buttons for brands will be how to find ways to become more than a store, perhaps by putting ‘digital into the physical’, selling online in-store, or getting up close and personal with technologies like AI.

So, this is certainly the time to reimagine your retail space and experiment with experience to create a new magical reality that pulls in shoppers and encourages them to try, try and try again before they buy.

So, how best to capitalise on these opportunities not just this Christmas but next year?

Rather than dealing directly with centres themselves, brands often look to agencies to manage their presence there. While that may seem the obvious and convenient route, it’s invariably the costliest option and one that may not produce the best results.

It can often instead make more sense to work through commercialisation specialists with a portfolio of centres. Not only does that immediately strip out a layer of middleman cost, meaning that budget can be reallocated to deepen the experience or achieve wider exposure, it also enables the creation of much more tailored regional and national campaigns.

For example, as the UK’s leading commercialisation provider we can offer 100 retail spaces, which allows us to put together the best possible combination of locations for our clients based on appropriate demographics, footfall and impact, rather than what’s most profitable for an agency.

As commercialisation specialists, we also have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips across the whole of our portfolio, based on previous experience.

Agencies, on the other hand, have to acquire this invaluable information from multiple centres to identify the best possible options before they can begin implementation. That’s a time-consuming process, at the end of which they still probably have an incomplete picture.

So, our service is based on much more than just a standard transactional client-agency relationship. In an ever-changing retail environment that constantly demands innovative solutions and new strategies, that’s incredibly important at any time of year, but especially so if you want to enjoy a very Merry Christmas.

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