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Understanding consumer preferences: Key to the success of malls

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It’s always better to have choices, especially in a country like India. Diverse cultures, lifestyles and standard of living give rise to different preferences. For every business, even for malls in India, these varied preferences give birth to new opportunities and with new opportunities come newer challenges

Changing customer preferences

Malls have slowly penetrated Tier 1 and Tier II cities of India. With increasing connectivity even people in remote locations are getting aware of malls and their offerings; when they visit a mall they come with their own expectations and preferences. Also, there is an increase in people travelling abroad, which makes the urban crowd restless about options available in malls abroad and India. Comparisons are being made between Indian and Overseas malls. Malls need to understand these changes in preferences to create an impact in the mall space of India.

Mall operators need to give them an experience and live up to their expectations. Globalization was a fad until now, but ‘Glocalisation’ is the flavour today. People want to try Thai food, Spanish dishes, Italian cuisine, etc. but, at the same time they want to relish Gujarati Thali, Rajasthani Thali too. The health conscious consumers now need variety in the type of salads they eat. Same is the case with choices required in segments like apparels, shoes, ornaments, stationary, groceries, etc. Even the size of the parking lot and the placement of air conditioning play an important role in mall management.

Malls: not a shopping destination anymore

Today malls are not just considered as a shopping destination. Malls have become an alternate choice to amusement parks, public parks etc. and have become a community hub. Consumers come to mall not only for shopping but also to spend time with their family and friends. So malls are becoming a destination which gives an experience to its patrons.

Challenges for malls

Managing malls comes with its own challenges which need to be diagnosed and resolved at the right time. Even placement of a particular brand at a tactful location is equally important to attract a visitor’s attraction. Right from the gaming zone, to apparels, to shoes, to gift articles or to the food court, anything and everything needs to be placed taking into account the customer’s preference. Effective cost management is also a challenge that needs attention in today’s era of hyper marketing.

Strategies applied

Malls are constantly upgrading and evolving keeping in mind the changes in customer’s preference and are devising strategies to create better customer connect. These malls are aware of the fact that focusing only on discount offers to lure customers won’t help in the long run and hence they are looking at alternatives to connect with consumers. There is science which goes behind running a mall. Research is conducted at regular intervals to understand consumer behaviour patterns. This helps in tracking and be a step ahead of the changing trends. Robust feedback mechanism and regular consumer engagement is followed by malls to understand changing consumer preferences and to match the demand requirements. To ensure smooth transition, layouts and formats of stores are planned keeping in mind customer needs. Foot traffic management techniques are used to manage visitors walk flow within the mall to ensure better experience.

Events have now become an integral part of activities in malls. What was weekend attraction earlier is now an everyday activity. Theme based events that can appeal to all age groups are always appreciated by consumers and they generate better engagement with them. Constantly engaging with tenants and review helps in ensuring better tenant mix and gives the mall a singular identity despite different brands inside.