Shopping Center Marketing-4

In 2003 I wrote a white paper on shopping centre marketing. I thought it might be interesting to see how how my ‘vision’ stacked up against the reality of the last 6 years. I am breaking it up into a series of posts – and for my RSS readers who may not be interested in this topic – just bear with me as normal programming will resume shortly – and there will be other posts in between. (Although I actually think it is worthwhile contemplating this particular variant of marketing which does not get a lot of air time.)


The following model attempts to graphically illustrate what the focus areas of the new shopping centre marketing paradigm should be.

SCM Model-Aug09

The X Axis of the model is the core shopping centre product which consists of two halves: The retail mix and the actual building fabric.

Both of these core elements must be managed in relation to the two customer groups represented on the Y Axis: The retailer (primary) and the patron (secondary).

The marketing activities in relation to these core elements are highlighted in the grey boxes.

Principle of Leverage

One of the key solutions to effecting the change demanded by the new model is to use our most important asset in terms of marketing – Leverage. The principle of leverage is easy to understand but very hard to implement.

-          We do not leverage the suppliers to the retailers. They are major stakeholders and beneficiaries of marketing success, yet contribute a negligible amount.

-          Buddy marketing: facilitating complimentary retailers joining forces to market more effectively

-          Leveraging the tens of million customer interactions that occur every month. If we could improve service levels a fraction, satisfaction levels would increase exponentially

-          The quality, scope and quantity of the research we do can and should be shared systematically with our retailers. Improving their business is improving our business.

-          Fitout contributions & abatements can be better leveraged to (re-)launch retailers and position them in the market. We should change the mindset from simple ‘rent relief’ to practical business support.

-          Make a more concerted effort to co-ordinate the existing marketing efforts of retailers and facilitate co-operative spend.

-          Greater efforts in utilising our economies and buying power to the benefit of the small retailer – helping those who can’t help themselves.

Principle of Duality

Shopping centre marketing is fairly unique in that we have two distinct and important customer sets. The retail customer is a corporate client to whom we should market the *&* product in different way we market the product to the consumer who patronises the shopping centre.

At present we rely on leasing purely as a sales channel and there is limited or no marketing involvement – except for the occasional leasing brochure and some involvement in retail planning. And retail planning is dominated by more senior/ experienced leasing executives, resulting in a plan that can easily reflect what is practically leasable as opposed to an complete retail solution.

The shopping centre owner contributes at least 50% of marketing funds and some of the funds can be quite legitimately spent on promoting our centres and satisfying the needs of the retail client beyond pure consumer marketing. If shopping centre marketing is going to gain its rightful place in the business, it should make a difference where it matters.

In figure 2 below, *&* spends most time and money on marketing to the right side (consumer) whereas many benefits can be gained form marketing further upstream.

Figure 2 Figure 2

This duality of our marketing makes it difficult to execute because of the vastly different approaches.