Lots of malls, both in India and around the world are facing the situation that they have unused space that no retailer is currently interested in leasing.
With a bit of imagination, these spaces can be put to all sorts of uses. The trick is to see your space as a media proposition. Create an exciting use for it and the benefits can be – a richer customer experience, a revenue stream, footfall growth, word of mouth buzz in your target audience, and publicity.
– Orchid City Centre in Mumbai turned a quiet section of the mall into a mini aquarium. A local fish breeder moved his tanks into the mall space, put up information cards on each type of fish. Visitors pay Rs.40 each as entry charge. The result is lots of school groups and families with children visiting the mall.
– One of the malls that my company works with, Mani Square in Kolkata, had an underused section of car park that was situated close to the mall entrance. We developed the idea of using this space as a furniture exhibition as there was no furniture retailer in the mall. The result was not only an extra retailer for the mall and a new revenue stream for the developers, but the retailer also invested into advertising to drive footfalls to his exhibition, which increased the mall footfalls.
– Many malls around the world have experimented with ‘Pop-Up Stores’. These are temporary stores that can wither be used by a big retailer who wants to promote and sell a single product (such as a new t-shirt line, or a new car) or for a new retailer who wants to test out their product in a mall environment. Spaces can also be used by artists to exhibit their work.
This is a US example, but it is the one that got me excited about writing this post.
Sorrento Hotel in Seattle is exploring exciting ways to use their facilities while also generating PR and word of mouth:
– Midnight symposium series: A reading and discussion club featuring leading writers, performers, thinkers and academics. Those interested book in advance for around Rs.2000 and are emailed a pdf of the reading. On the night, the group meets in the hotels largest suite to discuss the reading. Dinner and drinks are provided, alone with a copy of the author’s latest book.
– A series of cooking and cocktail making classes
– Chamber vs Chamber 1: music performance and discussions wherein a classical musician is paired with a rock musician. Entrance is around Rs.500
– A mini book store that sells only books related to that region of the country.
The Sorrento Hotel says that since they began these events a year ago, both F&B sales and room bookings are up by 25%. This can be attributed both to more people choosing to stay in the hotel because they know there will be activities, but also local residents experiencing the hotel and then recommending it to friends.
Much of the same strategy can be applied to a mall. At one mall with which I previously worked, we had a goal that there should be an interesting activity, either free or low cost, in the mall everyday. Visitors should choose our mall over a competitor’s, because there will always be something additional for them to do once the shopping has finished.
Select City Walk mall in Delhi has managed this really well. They often have concerts or interesting seasonal events, and their weekly flea market shows how a flea market can be so much more than just a line of tables selling cheap junk.
I’d love to hear about other examples of this?