Shopping Center Marketing… Yes it exists!

40 million footfalls a year. That’s equivalent to the population in Mumbai or Australia. That my friends is the amount of people visiting the 4 Inorbit malls in a year. So, if you consider the people visiting the top 10 malls in India the number is a staggering 140 million a year ! WOW. Hows that for being a people’s business. In a situation where you now have more than 3 or 4 malls in a radius of 5 kms or a catchment as it is termed and in a land where you have but a limited number of brands, therefore translating to common brands housed across malls, you would have thought Marketing would have played an important part in the just concluded Shopping Center Forum. Sadly, not the case.

There are so many issues that plague the Shopping center industry today… low footfalls, fixed buyer behavior, markets that are not ready yet, over crowding of malls in catchments, limited amount of brands with few companies having a Go to Market strategy to get and mentor high street retailers, budgeting that’s based on CAM and not on monies earned  and finally marketing synchronization and helping vanilla stores that aren’t brands worth the pull yet. To get your piece of the pie is becoming increasingly difficult and innovation is the only option. Forums like these become ideal platforms for sharing knowledge and way forward for companies. Unfortunately, as always marketing has never got its due in shopping center forums. Discussions rarely go beyond land cost, macro economies and CAM cost. The line CAM cost or Scam costs is something I heard first 5 years back and it is still used. Almost like the forum has never progressed beyond the Management for dummies level. Sad, because the forum for itself holds so much promise. It has all the biggies participating on  a really large scale.

Shopping Center Marketing in itself holds so much promise as no where does a company or marketer have a direct touch and feel access to so many of its consumers in a single radius. The potential of people and community marketing is immense and the scope for innovative marketing holds a lot of promise.  But it needs the attention and focus that it truly deserves.

The Shopping Centre Industry’s biggest bane has been that it hasn’t been given the status it deserves, but the  manner in which its cradlers are behaving it is showing no sign of maturing into a stable economy. Most questions and issues are still being answered in a stop gap basis and long term strategy by both individual companies as well as the industry as a group. Clearly a long way to go  before it finally matures into the sunrise industry that it deserves to be… But the wait is getting too long, hopefully it is short enough to rejuvenate itself into a bustling industry.

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