Thursday, July 7, 2011

A new day at the mall

Decades ago, I supervised a local mall’s marketing activities -- and that meant attending merchants’ association meetings, organizing and promoting sidewalk sales, distributing holiday event flyers, and designing the occasional ad for the city newspaper or producing a 30-second spot for radio.

My, how things have changed.

Technology advances coupled with a general slowdown in mall traffic have led shopping center owners to think way out of the box, innovating new ways to lure customers and stimulate sales. One of the more interesting programs I read about recently is Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland Western’s partnership with Smart Choice to launch a mobile personal shopping assistant app for its Shops at Legacy retail center in Plano, Texas.

Launching a smartphone app, as new as it is to most of us, isn’t what grabbed my attention. It’s the fact that the app features a “Men’s Corner,” customizing the male shopping experience to include drink specials, sports game listings and gift ideas.

“While shopping is typically all about the women, the ‘Men’s Corner’ was created to target our male customer,” Andrea Taylor, marketing director for The Shops, said in a statement.

My PR contact at Inland suggests that the Men’s Corner will continue to grow and add content as it grabs hold. Male-oriented events will be promoted on the Corner, along with sales and offers designed with men in mind.

That’s smart thinking. Back in the mid- to latter 1980’s, we couldn’t have conceived of smartphones, much less apps that segment mall shoppers by gender or by purchase history. And in a post-recessionary environment where malls are losing ground to online shopping and off-mall locations, any trick that pulls shoppers away from their computers and into the mall or store is one worth playing.

-- Katherine Field Boccaccio

No comments:

Post a Comment