Popular Culture and the Changing Face of Retail

Increasingly we are seeing the need for retailers to adapt and transform to accommodate changes in the market. As the battle against online shopping continues, retailers must maximise where they have the upper hand: creating a memorable experience. There are numerous methods in enhancing the experience and popular culture has become a key aspect.

Using popular culture through interactive displays, commercialisation units and engaging artwork is retail’s bite back at e-commerce, it’s an experience which can’t be reflected online to the same level.

The Glades shopping centre launched an interactive music wall to celebrate Bowie’s links to Bromley – a fantastic initiative to engage with the local demographic as well encouraging Bowie fans to visit from across the country. Using popular culture is another way to pull consumers to the centre to meet friends and build a community hub.

Another example is the Tucker’s Newsagent & Games, Bandersnatch themed pop-up game store following the massive response to the programme on Netflix. The store was positioned in Birmingham’s Grand Central and gained a considerable amount of interest from centre visitors as well as attracting new footfall through fans.

Along with the short-term leases gained, the magic of using popular culture is the marketing impact it has for shopping centres. The novelty quickly spreading through social media can have a massive impact on the shopping centres brand awareness, increase the brands social media following and in-turn, significantly increase footfall.

Having an exclusive offering for a limited time encourages people to photograph and share with friends and family – especially with the current (and growing) hype around social media, with users constantly sharing their personal activities – often live – with their followers.

Whether it’s commercialisation space, a pop-up shop or simply a wall of artwork, anything that is eye-catching and ‘photo worthy’ will become ‘shareable’ or ‘instagramable’ – encouraging visitors to stop and interact with the concept, increasing dwell time, driving footfall and raising awareness of the scheme.

Popular culture brings people together and creates talking point, it’s a fantastic placemaking strategy. This isn’t something that’s necessarily new – it’s been used in product marketing for a long time, with the rise of shows like Love Island increasing sales of slogan tees and the ‘tongue and lip’ Rolling Stones symbol being one of the most iconic T-Shirt designs of all time.

Popular culture is just one aspect of the increasing ways in which shopping centres and retail is changing, and is a perfect representation of how shopping centres will always be able to offer something different to online shopping. Popular culture is an excellent marketing and placemaking strategy, a perfect way to pull people together and make shopping a memorable experience that individuals want to share and enjoy with others.

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