Is the modern-day shopper happy with just a standard retail experience, or does he or she want more – something that combines the elements of both shopping and entertainment?
The answer to that should be quite clear, particularly if one considers the evolution of the shopping mall and how consumers now view and engage with them.
Mass urbanization, e-commerce and the rise in digital technology are just some of the issues affecting malls globally, but also presenting them with the opportunity to change their offering.
Consumers are increasingly viewing shopping as an experience, and retailers, landlords and their partners need to follow suit to accommodate this by creating an engaging space with activities which cannot be replicated at home or online. Only this will hold the consumer’s attention and encourage them to return.
That’s the view of Mall Ads, the industry’s leaders and innovators in the non-GLA space.
The concept of ‘retailtainment’ was first introduced by American sociologist George Ritzer in 1999 and the essence of it is of retail marketing as entertainment. In his book, Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption, Ritzer describes retailtainment as the “use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy.”
Sometimes called “inspirational retailing” or “entertailing,” it has also been defined as “the modern trend of combining shopping and entertainment opportunities as an anchor for customers.”
Mall Ads is well-versed in this concept, thanks to its unique approach to influencing shopping behaviour and its ability to present brands with opportunities to engage with shoppers in a way that does not feel like traditional advertising.
For example, exploring the pop-up store concept with adventurous clients or using the expo model to offer an experience that both entertains and informs a customer, whilst servicing a client’s retail objective.
In this way, it’s important to not get too far away from the retail aspect, when considering retailtainment, and that’s something advocated by renowned retailtainment guru, Gilles Devendeville, from REAL Consulting, which is a leisure-retailtainment and place-making consulting firm that advises landlords and franchise operators.
In fact, it’s one of seven points he believes are worth considering, when wading into the retailtainment space.
“Shops are the first vectors of emotion and experience for customers,” says Devendeville. “They have the legitimacy and ability to tell an amazing story through the brand and the venue.”
Thereafter, Devendeville pushes operators to “transform retail into theatre” (point 2) as well as “adopt a holistic approach for leisure” (3). This latter point refers to concepts such as food halls, cooking stations, temporary art exhibitions etc.
“Retail is not the only anchor,” says Devendeville. “Food, sport, art, culture and wellness are the new ambassadors of lifestyle and mixed-use destinations.”
Point 4 refers to “immersion is key”, with Devendeville citing examples such as spider trampolines, yoga classes, climbing walls and sky-diving simulators, with the last example leading into point 5, which encourages operators to “dream bigger with high-tech in limited spaces.” Think virtual reality and Esports in the mall environment.
Devendeville’s point 6 – “digital is magic” – is not too far removed from point 5, with more of a focus on big digital screens as entertainment, whilst point 7 rounds off his submission with a reference to “place-making”, which is socialization – creating an inviting and friendly environment in which people are happy to come and shop and play, with a variety of experiences on offer.
Quite simply, shopping malls need to remain relevant and attractive to consumers who are spoilt for choice and constantly seeking engaging and authentic experiences.
This resonates with Mall Ads, as it continues to look for opportunities in the non-GLA space for its customers and deliver tangible results for landlords and advertisers.