As shopping centers struggle with the consequences of the pandemic, many are redefining their plans and broadening their thinking to find ways to stay relevant and become centers where we live, work, play and eat. So what’s on the horizon?
At Edina’s luxury lair Gallery, Rachel Oelke, director of marketing, reports that the craze for downtown stores and restaurants is back in full force. Traffic is up from a year ago, and its retailers and restaurants are feeling it in their sales. The center is also seeing momentum on the rental side, despite a continued need for retail staff.
While experiential retail is by no means new, it appears to be more relevant than ever. Oelke’s team is constantly dreaming up unique experiences to connect with local Galleria-goers — from enneagram showcases to photo-worthy installations like its annual floral experience with Bachman’s (which saw record traffic this year ) this summer’s initiative: Camp Galleria, a twist on traditional summer camp with a series of DIY projects paired with camp-themed giveaways. “People’s desire for community and connection is stronger than ever right now,” says Oelke, who encourages tenants and partners to think creatively and display their brands in an engaging way for guests to take part. to photo opportunities to capture a moment and share with others.
While our grande dame of mega malls—Mall of America—also continues to secure leases and bring concepts (both local and national) to its diverse mix of tenants, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Marketing Jill Renslow notes that maintaining its Multidisciplinary marketing strategy is essential, especially with regards to economics and how people are prioritizing things differently. Renslow and his team have a busy events calendar filled with fun and original experiences for the whole family that are priceless. Take the mall’s new Official Tours program, for example, which gives customers a special behind-the-scenes look at our nation’s largest mall.
“These experiences for all ages and budgets, that’s what matters,” says Renslow. “We make sure we’re sensitive to what’s going on in the world around us and try to think about how we can help bring those things together so that there are exciting things you can do that don’t go right. not break your budget.”
Sure, MOA has had events at the heart of its strategy for decades, but there’s no better time to double down on experiences than in its 30th anniversary year. To coincide with this milestone, Renslow and his team have created a strong lineup of events—artist collaborations, giveaways, fashion shows, dance parties, and initiatives with local nonprofits—to count until his big day (August 11). Plus, look for a large-scale science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) event, a week-long mall-wide experience aimed at inspiring young people by showcasing a variety of careers in action. “Every square inch of the building is going to be activated like never before,” says Renslow, who began planning for the initiative before the pandemic. “It’s really a way for us to look to the future and invest in our young people with the hope of inspiring young minds as they seek to develop their career potential with engaging elements.”
When it comes to pushing the boundaries of traditional malls, Rosedale Center has emphasized a broader sense of community since the hyper-regional marketing team redefined its playbook from 2019. The centre’s new marketing director, Molly King, continues the momentum of efforts successful and creating new waves by adding to the progressive and diverse experiences and campaigns – like her ever-sold out “Shop Till You Drag: A Mall Drag Show,” a fashion event offering the chance to purchase meet tickets with local queens and photo ops after the show. More recently, the center reached out to its tech-savvy audience and featured its first “TikTalk”, where local influencers Sarah Edwards and Myka Dixon shared tips and tricks for amplifying brand presence on TikTok.
Rosedale Center has made diversity and inclusion top priorities, showcasing the community in a way that has not previously been seen locally. Last year, the center’s social media strategy reflected the real audience the center serves by featuring photos of Muslim, Black, Asian, tall, transgender, older and disabled models. The gradual step away from the status quo bodes well, as stores reported soaring sales figures with an influx of diverse shoppers.
It’s clear that the future of shopping malls will continue to be about more than shopping, as experiences, community and services will drive innovation and appeal to the audiences they serve, including mall walkers. commercial. Galleria, for example, will offer custom gold and black Jeremy Scott-branded strollers for parents with mini shopping buddies. “We’re excited to bring back a lot of the premium amenities that we weren’t able to offer in the past few years,” says Galleria’s Oelke.