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15. März 2012     Print Print 

New motto is “Experiences and Shopping”

While the main goal of visiting a store or shopping centre used to be to go shopping, the new development projects and marketing strategies of global brands are now focusing on experiences. These are intended to attract people to shops, where they can also do some shopping. This is evidenced by the new trend of experiential shopping, expressed for example as a children’s city with real stores, strong linkage of entertainment in the form of Jurassic Parks or the chance to dive into a giant shark-filled pool – all inside the shopping centres! Experiential shopping is not just about theme parks in shopping malls. It also offers customers a personal experience through shopping so they develop a close connection with a product or brand.

“The driving force behind experiential shopping are changes in consumer behaviour. Shopping has become a way to spend one’s leisure time. For a particular segment of customers it allows them to manage many things at once – shopping, spending free time with family and friends, and having fun. Shopping is increasingly associated with a certain lifestyle, to which individual brands are also associated,” explains Lenka Šindelářová, Head of Consulting & Research at international consulting firm DTZ. Developers and retailers themselves are trying to move away from product sales towards greater care of customers – their time, family, feelings, and even potential problems. “Combining shopping with culture, sport, education or entertainment is one of few ways traditional retail can defend against the internet shopping boom – it has to liven up people’s leisure time,” says Lenka Vodrážková, Head of Property Management at DTZ’s Prague office.

Transforming concepts in retail are also largely associated with the penetration of modern technology into sales and customers’ lives. Brick-and-mortar shops can also make use of digital catwalks or fitting rooms with built-in cameras showing how the buyer looks in clothes from behind.

The massive involvement of social networks in merchants’ marketing campaigns is manifested on the Internet. Consumers nowadays want to participate creatively in their brand and communicate with it. For example, Nike has a Facebook page with several hundred thousand active users per month – among other things the company allows its fans to create their own colour design of shoes. A similar case is the network of Build a Bear shops, where children can create their own teddy bear, including clothing, sounds it makes, padding and create for him his own birth certificate.
“We expect that the customer will have ever more opportunities to take part actively in the creation of a product and thereby get a social connection with a brand. Merchants will then have a better overview of their target group. The customer will have the ability to create their own personalized shopping experience,” adds Lenka Šindelářová.

Theatre, sport and shopping
Experiential shopping is mainly associated with the segments of sport, fashion and consumer electronics. The best example among brick-and-mortar retailers in the field of sport and outdoor activities is German company Globetrotter. In its stores with an average size of some 6,500 m² the customer can try out equipment, for example, on a 26-metre long and 12-metre high climbing wall, in a chamber that simulates rain and snow storms or in a 160-metre square pool for testing kayaks, canoes and sailboats. Some Globetrotter stores also have a Kinderland where children can have fun. Another sport retail chain that relies on the fact that customers want to try things out and play with them before buying is Decathlon. Its two branches operate in the Czech Republic.

Entire shopping centres are increasingly following a similar strategy: they spend large sums of money on the overall design and interior of the shopping centre in order to impress upon visitors’ emotions. One example is Madrid Xanadú, one of the biggest shopping and entertainment destinations in Europe, with the largest indoor winter sport complex in Europe and many other attractions. A further example of these trends in action is the largest shopping centre in Europe – Forum Istanbul belonging to Multi Development. The project has a capacity of 175,000 m² including 30,000 m² reserved for entertainment, and some 2.2 million visitors per month pass through it. Besides the most sophisticated dinosaur park it offers a science museum, research centre, a huge aquarium, ice museum, a giant virtual reality simulator and other attractions. Another big draw are the educational programmes, which link education with entertainment in the form of “edutainment”.