A shopping centre’s brand is their identity, in simple terms; it is how consumers perceive a centre. This impression comes from factual information such as the tenant mix, the size, the leisure offering and also the emotional feeling or ‘vibe’ consumers have towards the centre; classy, stylish, fun, romantic etc. A shopping centre needs to decide on the brand image they want, create a marketing strategy to support this, and ensure this is consistent across all channels and all staff understand and follow the brand values.
A brand is a way to differentiate a scheme from other centres and give consumers a reason to visit one centre over another. It has become commonly known that consumers no longer visit shopping centres for the sole purpose of shopping; it is a place to meet friends, have dinner and enjoy leisure activities – a brand will determine if people choose to go to a shopping centre to do this, or another venue.
The tenant mix really helps build a brand. Each tenant will have their own brand be it fashion or value led and the mix of F&B and leisure tenants will build a sense of luxury, uniqueness, family friendly or romance. The centre’s brand will also affect if retailers and other tenants want to lease space and ultimately, the over all asset value.
Positive experience and service are becoming increasingly important to consumers and therefore, can be detrimental to a brand. It is thought bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good experience and it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience. A positive experience enhances consumer loyalty, converting visitors into loyal guests of a scheme.
Social Media and all other platforms need to be managed carefully to ensure the brand image is monitored and not tarnished in any way. It cannot be ignored, it is important to be present so consumers have the opportunity to interact with a centre and it is crucial to be consistent across all channels. Social media is a great way to amplify a brand; shout about successes, events and CSR activities and communicate with guests – it’s an opportunity to resolve problems with unhappy consumers and drive footfall.
A strong brand makes a shopping centre recognised for all the right reasons. Every touch point with a consumer is an opportunity to give a positive experience, build consumer loyalty and increase the asset value.
Kat Whitehead, Senior Marketing Executive, Foundation Recruitment