For example, if a developer knows that local residents and workers are likely to be creatives, why not host a Photoshop editing class on site, after which attendees can share their experience over drinks at one of the centre's bars? The ability to connect likeminded people to inspire, educate or entertain is a powerful service to offer.
As a result, a strong gauge of successful programming is how quickly you can get visitors to speak to one another, rather than anonymously browse the space. You can’t create a true community if there is no engagement, and again, personalised programming can conjure familiarity between strangers. It’s here that the physical space can provide opportunities for shoppers to start a dialogue. Retailers and developers must augment the environment to encourage interaction. Build communal spaces such as lounges, flexible green space, co-working environments, and even built-in entertainment venues within retail stores. As a central point of connection, the best brands will emerge as treasured conversation starters.
It’s also crucial to think beyond the holidays. The focus for special events should no longer centre on Black Friday and the holiday season – modern consumers increasingly celebrate secular occasions such as Pride Week and Singles Day. Explore the variety of global festivities and wider religious traditions that fit with your target audience and adopt a mix-and-match attitude to connect with different demographics and individuals in order to stay relevant.
As we look to the early 2020s, forward-thinking brands and developers will be those looking beyond product and customer service to instead make a more fundamental connection with their audience. They will present visitors with an elevated experience, while offering meaningful programming that inspires, educates and entertains, forging a more engaged community, and in turn more loyal customers.
Emily Hamilton is director of brand marketing at design and architectural firm FRCH Design Worldwide. Subscribers can explore the four major trends set to shape the future of mall retail with our dedicated Listicle.
Read more insights to fuel your strategy for bricks-and-mortar success in our Retail Futures : Storefront Salvation Report. Download Available at : https://www.thefuturelaboratory.com/retail-futures-2018-store-front-salvation-report
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