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.)
5. HIERACHY OF OBJECTIVES
Further analysis of the bi-directional nature of our marketing efforts, reveals that at the centre of all our marketing should be RESEARCH – not branding, not promotions. Marketing communications is often seen as a panacea and the only concrete outcome delivered by a marketing team, whereas advertising and communications is simply a means to an end. It should be the last thing that is done, not the first.
In today’s cynical, post-modern consumer society marketing communications are highly unlikely to change the behaviour of consumers. Unlike FMCG marketing that is simply interested in changing purchasing behaviour; the shopping centre marketer is burdened with a much more significant and broader societal function of shaping consumer behaviour on a much broader scale. The shopping centre is no longer (or should no longer be) merely a cathedral of conspicuous consumption.
The diagram below illustrates the relationship between marketing objectives and the concomitant principle area of focus for marketing.
The importance of this hierarchy is that first efforts and most emphasis should be focused on the first priority areas, then the next and only then on promotions and market communications.
The first priority would be to affect a strategic shift in emphasis. This will probably be a gradual process as people’s minds and attitudes adjust to the more strategic nature of marketing and the emphasis on making a difference where it counts as opposed to the visual tonic of flashy posters. The following three areas should be addressed.
OK, dear reader, if you have stuck with me this far, congratulations. This is the essence of the vision that I had for shopping centre marketing in 2003:
From Branding >> Research
The most important marketing function is making sure that every person in the organisation understands as much as possible of each customer.
From Communications >>Product improvement
The product has two elements: the physical building fabric and facilities as well as the retail mix. This includes the micro management of layouts, merchandising standards and store positioning.
From Promotions >>Category management
Unique marketing strategies (for every centre) for every retail category should be developed. This should involve the retailers in a meaningful way to ensure commitment.
I then continued the discussion talking about implementation challenges, KPIs etc.
And now for the admission: I did not succeed in getting this new approach adopted.
When I subsequently developed this original vision into a practical framework (with a few ‘P’s of course) including ‘placemaking’ and ‘community engagement’ I had lost most people and the end result was… more promotions – just like always.