Malls have been built as pillars of social and commercial life in cities around the world. However, the last decade has been full of demographic, socio-economic, cultural and technological changes, seen in new trends and digitized lifestyles. With a couple of clicks, users can access a vast quantity and variety of products globally, with competitive suppliers and prices, all from the comfort of home. By 2020, it is expected that nearly 15 percent of retail sales worldwide will be made online.
What can a mall do in the face of these new trends and distribution channels? The future (and present) of retail is in experiential marketing, engaging the consumer through interaction. Today’s consumer wants to shop at places with outdoor spaces and fun activities they can share with friends, as well as find varied dining options and unique products and services not available online.
Malls must take advantage of these needs and begin offering a unique brand experience, including sensory and emotional experiences, using tools that blend digital technologies with personalized attention.
The Era of “Shoppertainment”
Shoppertainment (shopping + entertainment) is a trend where stores and malls go beyond their traditional sales channels, engaging the customer as a central element of their marketing efforts through interactive and fun activities that influence their purchasing decision. In addition, they must reward them for it, either with gifts or unforgettable moments.
Malls are being transformed into entertainment centers, including attractions such as concerts, cultural events or thematic spaces. Thanks to digital tools such as mobile applications and virtual or augmented reality, it is easier than ever to connect in a personalized way with customers and learn their habits or opinions. The key to success is creating value experiences beyond products, through a true emotional relationship between the customer and the brand.
Galerías Vallarta is a clear example of a center offering shoppertainment, where they offer frequent events directed at various segments, such as Go>Fashion (a fashion show featuring spring collections), the Children’s Festival and art exhibits. They also include efforts that involve customer interaction, such as an app and a loyalty program where consumers earn points to redeem for prizes at mall businesses or get passes for concerts and plays, etc. In addition, they have declared the mall pet-friendly, so it is no longer a mere shopping center but a public space where people can go to spend the day, have a meal with family and walk their pets.
La Isla Puerto Vallarta is another good example of these trends. With a theme park concept that includes pirate and maritime motifs (reflecting its name), strolling through this mall is a true experience. Open-air spaces, sculptures, fountains, canals, an amphitheater featuring cultural shows, restaurants and shops invite you to enjoy your evening with your family or partner there. It also includes a hotel, making it a full resort.
Interaction between the mall and the customer, as well as between the customer and his social circle, are indispensable to this process. Social networks enable streamed events, brand activation, as well as contests and sweepstakes involving hashtags and photos on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook in exchange for some prize that will increase appreciation of the mall. According to an Event Marketer study, after a live event or brand activation, 98 percent of consumers are more inclined to buy, 74 percent have a better opinion of a brand and 70 percent become a regular customer.
A mall’s marketing strategy must extend beyond its physical space and traditional sales channels. The goal is to become part of the daily life of customers by offering significant experiences and/or value, combining shoppertainment strategies with the latest technological and digital tools. In this way, a deeper and more lasting relationship will be achieved with customers, who will show their love for the brand inside and outside the mall.