In 2003 I wrote a white paper on shopping centre marketing. I thought it might be interesting to see how how my ‘vision’ stacked up against the reality of the last 6 years. I am breaking it up into a series of posts – and for my RSS readers who may not be interested in this topic – just bear with me as normal programming will resume shortly – and there will be other posts in between. (Although I actually think it is worthwhile contemplating this particular variant of marketing which does not get a lot of air time.)
To adapt an old adage: The problem with marketing is that only one half works and no-one knows which half. The risk in making any changes to the way we market is of course that we are being reactive to the problems experienced with that one half that does not work and effectively just change one set of problems for another.
This paper is not a critique of how *&* conducts the marketing currently, since we follow the same recipe of every other major owner/manager in the world. The only major differences that exist between the Australian model and other models are legal or commercial in nature and do not vary in principle.
Having said that, there are three fundamental issues and problems that have never been addressed by any shopping centre manger anywhere in the world:
- The product that we manage is very different to fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) yet we seem to persist with applying those tools and techniques to our product.
- We are relatively uniquely positioned in that we have to focus on primary customers and secondary customers in equal measure.
- Every product (shopping centre) is unique. The marketing for Mall of America cannot be compared to ***– and it is not just the size of the budget.
In order to have some sense of why a new marketing paradigm is due to emerge, it is necessary to understand the evolution of marketing.
Unfortunately this necessitates a detour through some conceptual issues and theoretical constructs, but bear with me, the muddied waters will clear.
I have often heard (senior) people saying about Marketing that they ‘just don’t get it’. This is not simply an indictment of the way we conduct marketing in our business. Despite doing a PhD on the subject, I don’t always get myself, but some misconceptions are relatively easy to clear once they are understood.
The main reason for this lack of understanding and acceptance is because people must often be disposed of the notion that because the marketing people are clustered in a marketing department, that whatever it is that they do must then be ‘marketing’. That is the beginning of the end for marketing.
Marketing is an attitude, a way of doing business that simply means those activities that are about the ‘market’ – that is our customer. Hopefully everything we do in our business must be about our customers – the market (retailers and consumers). It means everything the property department does is really marketing; everything the leasing department does is marketing. Hopefully this notion will become clearer as the academic fog lifts.