Tier II and tier III cities are undoubtedly the future growth engines of the country. The rise in internet penetration, influence of social media and growing disposable incomes of the new generation have essentially ushered in an era of commerce,resulting in a mall boom in India.
Such is the growing mall culture in India that 34 new shopping malls, covering 13.6 million sq. ft. area are expected to come up in top eight cities by the year 2020. However, with the growth of e-commerce and m-commerce, malls understood the need to reinvent themselves in order to offer more than just retail to bring in and retain the modern consumer. This was especially essential in Tier II cities, where the penetration of Internet meant people could access brands that could not physically reach them. Today’s Tier II consumer is as evolved, educated and well-travelled as anyone living in a metropolitan city.
He’s demanding and has a high disposable income. To cater to him, new malls being constructed in smaller cities are allocating substantial square footage to Family Entertainment Centres (FECs). Maximising on digital technology, these malls are improving upon customer engagement to stimulate footfalls as a business strategy to boost sales.
9D N REGALIA MALL, BHUBANESWAR
D N Regalia Mall, a promising addition to the shopping centre landscape in Bhubaneswar, is all set to launch a benchmark in customer experience by adding an FEC zone. “FEC plays a crucial role in every shopping mall. It acts as a definite crowd puller for kids, who in turn bring their families to the mall with them. Our FECs are designed in a child friendly manner and thus families tend to flock around our mall,” says Siddharth Nayak, Vice President, D N Regalia Mall.
“We are now planning to bring in the biggest FEC player of the country, Smaaash, an initiative of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, to our mall. This first-of-its-kind venture in Odisha includes a contract signed with 40 international cricketers,” he adds. Another attraction by the mall is a huge VR roller coaster ride.
Nayak says the most interesting feature of this ride is that visitors can any random design and the coaster will drive them in a similar path – a novel concept in as far as FEC rides go.
For parents with small kids, the mall has built dining options next to the kids’ zone, so parents can catch their breath and enjoy a bite while watching their children play. The mall is coming up with a complete floor that offers a 10000 sq.ft. micro-brewery, a Cyber Hub-like concept called Food Hub with six top fine-dine restaurants.
“The mall – which is a mixed-use development – will see the first Taj hotel opening up in the city. Vivanta Bhubaneswar will comprise 137 well-furnished guest rooms and other features, including multi-cuisine restaurants, recreation facilities, modern meeting spaces, well-equipped conference rooms and 4 banquet halls and five fine dine restaurants. It is slated to open in September 2020,” he stated.
8VIVIANA MALL, THANE
For the residents of Thane, Viviana Mall is a great community hub. An FEC has been part of Viviana’s culture since it opened doors to consumers in 2013. The mall has achieved steadily increasing footfalls, shopping spends and overall retail turnover over the years and having an FEC zone has only enhanced and contributed to its growing brand value.
“The mall culture has been prevalent in India for just about two decades now. Having said that in these two decades the entire industry has survived a lot. While 2007-2008 saw a surge in the number of malls, the onset of recession did impact the mall and retail sector in early 2008. Only the players who understood that malls need to graduate from just being a shopping centre to an experience zone survived the test of time. This was a key factor which made FECs play a significant role in revolutionising the Indian mallscape,” explains Manoj K Agarwal, CEO, Viviana Mall.
He says that a combination of digitisation, rapid urbanisation, rise in disposable incomes and changes in the lifestyle of the middle-class and the malls understanding their existencewas more as providers of experiences that went beyond just shopping, is what has made malls successful today.
“We at Viviana, gauged this trend through in-depth market research and launched itself with ample amount of options in its Fun and Entertainment formats. Thus, making Viviana a destination mall in the true sense,” he further adds.
One of the mall’s USPs is that Viviana Mall always aims to change with changing times and the team feels that the old should always be replaced with new and upgraded versions.
“In keeping with this belief, we have recently got our FEC totally renovated and have added a number of new rides. These help us give our customers the very best in customer engagement and value and give them an amusement park-type experience. This, in turn, has increased our footfalls and sales which has led to organic growth for us as a whole. This is the kind of experience we have in mind when we curate our events and our FEC zones for our customers,” says Agarwal.
“We want consumers to get good value for their time and money and make sure when they think leisure time with family, they come to Viviana,” he states. Viviana’s FEC offering is in the form a 30,000 sq. ft. space with Cinepolis, being their star attraction. Cinepolis has 14 Screens including a 4-Screen VIP section offering recliner seats, butler service and an exclusive dining menu offering a wide array of scrumptious dishes.
The traditional section has 10 screens offering a excellent range of movies to view including 3 special screens which provide I-max, 4DX and Atmos formats along with a fresh newlydesigned food and beverage menu thus offering our customers a 360-degree entertainment experience.
This has helped in making them a key player in mall on a pan India basis that offers unique recreation options thus differentiating Viviana from other malls in the country.
This combined with a 30,000 sq. ft. FEC in the mall has made Viviana a heavily popular mallamongst all our customers across Mumbai. Fun City has been with Viviana since its inception in 2015, giving customers a wide range of rides to choose from. They also have VR based gaming options and some superb amusement park themed rides that add to the thrill for customers.
7LULU MALL, KOCHI
Since its launch in 2013, LuLu Mall has transformed the way Kerala shops. Being the first avenue for large scale organised retail in the state, LuLu has been able to stay far ahead of the competition across the state. Shibu Philips, Business Head of LuLu Shopping Mall, believes in an age where with soaring customer expectations, if a company can create satisfied customers, retention becomes instinctive.
“LuLu Mall, being the first avenue for large scale organised retail in the state, we have been able to stay far ahead of the competition across the state. We keep generating various new factors because of which LuLu has become a melting pot of fashion, food, culture and entertainment. Once you create a destination value, you automatically cater to families.
“A vibrant FEC zone is a must for any mall. With increased online shopping, the focus is shifting from ‘shopping’ destinations to a more wholesome approach, giving more importance to food and entertainment – creating community spaces. Having realised this, malls today are dedicating around 30-35 percent of the GLA to F&B and entertainment. Earlier, FECs were planned and built only for toddlers and children. India today has a brand awareness, techsavvy millennial population with increasing disposable income,” he further adds.
LuLu has one of the largest FEC zones in the country. It is equipped with the latest video games, roller coasters, carousels and bumper cars, toddlers’ play area, a 12-lane bowling alley, a world class 5D cinema experience, south India’s largest ice-skating rink and a host of other children’s rides and video arcades. Constant innovations in technological amusements are ensured to offer a wider variety of gaming options for customers, make sure they are not easily bored. Last year, the mall opened a 5,000 sq. ft. trampoline park which is currently a favourite among fun loving and fitness conscious youth. For children and youngsters, they have added a number of high energy Virtual Reality games, which take up less space, but provide an excellent experience.
Mahesh M, CEO, Creaticity says, “Malls are no more looked at as only a place to purchase goods and services. Modern malls have evolved over the last few years beyond that. No one can imagine an urban space without such social spaces. A space where one can come and immerse into various activities like shopping, entertainment, dining or just a social outing with friends and family under one roof. For Creaticity, family entertainment is no longer the usual mix of restaurants and slot machine zones. We firmly believe that a mall needs to transform into a socialscape – a place to gather, a place to converse, a place to explore and experience new things. By combining this consumer journey with visual and smart-tech cues like architectural, technological and retail mix innovations, we can help to make this experience of discovery even better and engaging. FECs areusually seen as footfall drivers to a mall, we view our off erings on this front as FF+. The plus is the differentiated consumer experience that generates positive word of mouth and repeat visits to our campus.”
Creaticity has innovative formats like Tiger Play, SkyJumper and SLATE (a children’s enrichment center), which are all part of Playcity and Eventcity with over 11 event venues including a state of the art 700 seater open Amphitheatre which hosts national and international programs cutting across music, theatre, art and dance forms. The idea lies in bringing differentiated entertainment in the 10 percent of space the has mall dedicated to such concepts. While Tigerplay is an outdoor turf that hosts group gaming sports like Futsal and Cricket, Skyjumper is Pune’s largest Trampoline Park spread over 12,000 sq. ft. of space and attracts not only children but adults too.
5SENTRUM MALL, ASANSOL
Spread across 2.50 lakh sq.ft. of retail space, Asansol Sentrum – Bengal Shristi Infrastructure Development, is the largest shopping centre in Asansol.
Talking about its FEC segment, Sahil Saharia, Chief Executive Officer, Bengal Shristi says, “The FEC segment is rapidly gaining popularity in Tier II and III cities. While entertainment plays a pivotal role in attracting footfalls in the mall, branded shopping has the aspiration factor associated with itthat drives more crowds to the mall. In our consistent endeavor to make the mall more appealing and sophisticated, we constantly engage in adding new and state of the art technologies to enhance customer experience. We use audio-visuals and marketing communication to reach out to our consumers.”
4JUNCTION MALL, DURGAPUR
Junction Mall, Durgapur is one destination which is gaining popularity among Millennials due to its vibrant FEC segment. The mall is constantly evolving, never failing to surprise its customers.
“The shopping mall experience today widens the perspectives of customers, making sure it doesn’t conclude with just shopping or food. Junction Mall provides its customers with bigger and better experiences aligned with shopping, entertainment, an adda (venue to hangout) and food – the four parametersfor achieving an enriched response and consumer satisfaction. Durgapur being a Tier II city, it covers a vast geographical area where we get potential customers from a wide 100+ km radius. The customer can spend quality time here. At Junction, we offer Bioscope (cinema hall), a kids play zone, a gaming zone, renowned national and international brands, quick service restaurants as well as fine dine options, a mesmerising ambiance and lots more for customers to spend long hours in,” states Arijit Chatterjee, COO, Junction Mall.
“From our past experiences and learnings, we have observed that FECs attract more crowds than fashion in Tier II cities. Here, customers seek hassle-free destinations where shopping itself becomes a pleasure and entertainment for their kids. As far as FEC expansion is concerned, we always welcome brands for customer to avail services beyond expectation, although, Junction Mall is well equipped with its own gaming zone featuring 30+ fun games and consoles. Not only kids, but even grownups and adults enjoy, our gaming initiative and are amazed by our timely upgradation, triggering and installation of new entertainment options,” he adds.
3CITY CENTRE, GUWAHATI
City Centre, Guwahati’s first complete mall had a pre-launch ceremony in December 2018. The mall has allocated over 10,000 sq. ft. of space for entertainment, 3-4 identical spaces of 2,000- 3,300 sq. ft. each for F&B as well as a food court built over 25,000 sq. ft. with 12 counters and a seating capacity of 500+ people. City Centre has an exclusive entertainment zones with a 6-screen PVR multiplex, a gaming zone, a food court and fine dining choices to please the choicest of palates.
Gaurav Paliwal, Leasing and Operation Head, Brahmaputra Infrastructure Limited, says, “We are in the process of developing a selfie point in the mall. Along with this, the mall has a PVR with six screens with a seating capacity of 1,000+ people in the 30,000 sq. ft. area. Smaaash – which is entering NorthEast for the first time through City Centre Guwahati – has been allotted space of 11,000 sq. ft. There are also different rides in the entertainment area to attract families with toddlers.”
2KW DELHI 6, GHAZIABAD
KW Delhi 6, an upcoming mall in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh is another Tier II city mall which is focusing on FEC. The mall aims to offer the visitors an imagination and senses high like never before. There are games Skeleton Dancing, AR & VR games, interactive flooring, holography, ice café, a 9D theatre, zip line, ATV tracks, drone racing humanoid, musical fountain and many more making KW Delhi 6 the fun, experiential shopping centre to be in, in Delhi-NCR.
Alongside this, the mall offers the best in food and a wide variety of retail mix, making it the perfect family entertainment destination to visit in the city. “Simply put, shopping centres are trying to rake in footfalls and revenues by luring people with fun and entertainment and are bolstering their retail offerings, making it a spin-off of these leisure activities that people come to malls to engage in,” says Pankaj Jain, Managing Director, KW Delhi 6.
Shopping centres across the globe are now focusing on prime entertainment, with actual shopping taking a backseat. There are malls offering over-the-top features including indoor ski-hills, indoor theme parks, water parks, zoos, science centres, shooting ranges and even an underground shark tunnel. And Tier II malls are not going to be left behind.
They are working hard to beat e-commerce by finding the right tenant mix, enabling the inclusion of an FEC zones and offering unmatched experiences – all of which have now started reflecting in their numbers.
(With inputs from Simran Monhanty)