It has been quite a while since I had the need to flick through my thesis, but when I recently did, I found this little gem. (It dates back to 1997, but like any good research, it stood the test of time :-) ) Although not the purpose of the research, a diverse collection of determinants of choice of shopping destination were uncovered:
Of course top of the list is the availability of the product/ service sought.
This highlights the symbolic dimension or role of the shopping centre. The base line is to shop amongst people like myself, with a bias towards seeking the aspirational benefits.
This construct incorporates the ‘feel’ of the store. It is important to patrons that the centre/ shop are not too crowded or too empty. The general requirement was a pleasant atmosphere where the patron can shop at his or her own pace.
This constructs incorporates shoppers desire to meet their individual goals and objectives in a responsible manner. It came as somewhat as a surprise how seriously most people took their patronage and shopping decisions.
This can be best summed up as patrons wanting to shop amongst their own kind.
Convenience & Time saving
Convenience is mostly consequential to parking, layout and tenant mix factors of the centre. The trade-off customers make in their own minds always deemed to be against family time.
Shoppers see certain stores as more expensive than others, and that influences their patronage decision.
There are three distinct feelings that play a role in shopping emotional distancing, emotional well-being and hedonism.
This driver is best described as the need to ‘be myself’. Shoppers almost always feel more at home in an environment where they could be themselves. Shopping at ‘my centre’ or ‘my store’ or ‘my local’ reinforces a sense of identity.
This construct refers to the epistemic dimension of shopping - which allows the shopper to acquire new knowledge and experiences. This is for instance the very purpose of ‘window-shopping’.
If scrutinised closely, you will notice overlap with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. That was not intentional, as this was primary research. These 'drivers' of shopping destination choice can easily be converted into a checklist.
The question is: How does your store or shopping centre compare?