I've been writing for a couple of years now about the growth in mall advertising and in-store media, driven by the innovative below-the-line companies operating in this space.
It is a mass medium all on its own and as the last step in convincing consumers to purchase your brand, it is becoming even more important in this crudely cluttered advertising-driven world.
It makes a lot of sense because the shopping environment is a safe place for brands: consumers are there to shop, they have ready-cash (well, some do!). They are more receptive to sales offers and brand promotions.
Fierce competition in this shopper marketing sector has also driven innovation as has the tight reign mall property owners and retailers keep on their in-store and outer-store space.
Research also tells us that malls have become our 'Third Place' - after home and work - as we spend so much time there and many go there for their entertainment needs too.
Depending on who you talk to, between 68% and 72% of purchasing decisions are made in-store - in the aisle, at the shelf - and research shows that shoppers organise their shopping trips around the type of experiences that they want to have, not only around what they need to do.
I know from my own insights, The Third Place: Trends in Shopper Marketing, 2013 and mall site visits with the various media owners, that they have worked very hard to capitalise on available real estate inside shopping centres for advertising. From the high end to middle income malls.
And apart from the awful, pushy 'Dead Sea creams' people, they mostly get it right.
As I was editing this column this morning, the Primedia Unlimited Mall Division and GIBS just released 'Retail Shoppertunities' study landed in my inbox and these are some of their highlights (quoted verbatim):
"Once in the mall, nearly half (45%) of consumers are deal prone or value conscious and respond to promotions spontaneously when they see them.
The results highlight the need for marketers to align their offerings according to shopper segments, to capitalise on in-mall marketing opportunities and to grow sales by reassuring customers that they are savvy shoppers.
The research also showed that mall advertising gets consumers to particular shops or brands where unplanned purchases happen. Advertising could take the form of washroom advertising, digital directories, underground parking billboards, escalator branding, lift banners, video walls or hanging banners. For example, 62% of people who made unintentional purchases noticed the hanging banners."
The variety of different consumer touch points are vast and it is good to see digital screens being rolled out finally with some success in the mall and in-store environment to reinforce brand messages after the millions already invested in technologies that haven't to date worked all that well.
I'd like to see more direct marketing, like discount vouchers to drive consumer traffic in-store. South Africans are nowhere near the coupon collectors that Americans are (i.e., totally nuts), but there are other ways to reach the recession-hit shopper. Shoprite is doing amazing things with their 'bundles' of essential foodstuffs and free airtime vouchers right there at the till point on specials.
There could also be more done with essential shopping basket brands, not only the luxury brands, in the mall forecourts. We all read the stories and have all experienced it for ourselves, how shockingly grocery prices are rising due to all the other economic factors at play.
Never before in a recession have I had friends actually sending bulk SMSs to their network when they come across amazing specials in washing powder or fruit and veg at this or that retailer! Even I bought a 3kg bag of sugar the other day because it was almost the same price on special as a 1kg bag - when I don't even use sugar daily. It's going to last me six months!
Times, they are a changing, and retailers in particular need to take note, not just in the grocery sector, but across the board in order to make themselves recession-proof.
All the research points to consumers who are holding on to their cash, and shopping carefully.
That whole "adding value, sharing and caring, touching your consumer's lives" thing that your agencies are touting as the only way to reach your customers - it works on price too.
Value, price, loyalty and experience are the trends that come up over and over again and it is this that retailers, mall owners and brands need to be focussing on, in what is arguably the worst recorded global recession since the plague killed off half ye olde medieval consumers.
TRENDAFRiCA is a trend watching portal on consumer insight, research and trends from South Africa and further afield on the continent of Africa. It includes DAiLY trends headlines from around the world, influential Trendspotter columnists and in-depth reports on industry segments. Louise Marsland is the founder and editor.Go to: www.trendafrica.co.za