by Dom Alvaro, Principal, Director - Australia, Woods Bagot
We know what retailers and consumers are thinking…it’s not just shopping.
As the world’s communities urbanise faster, live longer, are more empowered, and, of course, are digitally connected to anything anywhere, people want to spend their elective time in the most engaging places that not only give them what they want, but also become a part of their personal daily stories. Whether it is accessing a “click and collect” point on the way home, escaping the airline lounge looking for a “real” coffee, walking a new luxury precinct in the mall, or savouring the latest dumpling offer prior to a big night out, the shopping and dining experience is forevermore connected to these stories.
Additionally, the stages upon which our lives are played out are converging. Living, working, learning and playing become inextricably linked to the environments that we design and occupy. Adaptable space that performs from hour-to-hour, day-to-day and season-to-season is the new desire. Supporting technology continues to transform how we act and collaborate, blurring the lines between social and business activities. Building for change is what creates lasting value – particularly within retail environments. Now, more than ever, considered consumer behaviour and character traits have become the major factors influencing the transformation of the shopping environment from spaces for buying things people need to spaces for experiencing things people want.
This consumer-centric approach relies upon specific behaviour-based consumer research that studies not only standard demographic data, but also the “day-in-the-life” demands and desires of the various generational, gender, vocational, age, and status “characters” that make up existing or potential customer bases. This information now informs and improves project briefs, questions conventions, and leads thinking in a particular way that curates and augments shopping experiences that match expectations of these consumer types or traits. It’s about creating spaces and places that are something for someone, rather than everything to everyone. Post-Demographic Consumerism, The Vertical Village Town Square approach, and a Total Experience Strategy are now the means and methods striving to achieve relevant retail-led outcomes.
Post-Demographic Consumerism involves owners and operators enabling influential demographic groups to tell them what they want and how they want it based on necessity and aspirations. This has the potential to create diversity in offer and removes the more formulaic executive processes that lead to very identical outcomes within single contexts. New consumption patterns that are well beyond traditional demographic conventions now dominate the development strategy. “Listening to the Movement” is the way forward.
The Vertical Village Town Square approach is driven by the evolution of tower occupants to demand the most appealing “workstyle/lifeplace” experiences, which has led owners and operators to completely reinvent and expand the traditional retail offer at traditional podium levels. This demand for appeal is directly related to the new generations of occupants who now utilise these spaces for multiple aspects of their lives. In turn, retailers, restaurateurs, service providers and innovators are expecting experience defining spaces that provide the “platform” for their brand. This is a synchronising of location with behaviour.
The Total Experience Strategy aims to unify and strengthen the relationship between design, development, finance, leasing, media, and customer service in order to derive “relevance strategies” at existing and new properties. By blending these practices, owners and operators can facilitate and leverage real-time consumer behaviour data to drive decisions. Ensuring the customer journey is enhanced by “guest” comfort, the right tenants in the right location, is sensitive to customer elective time, grounded with local personality, and connects people via activity-based and digital place-making achieves a memorable outcome that is aligned with aspirations and desires.
This augmented experience provides innovative outcomes that challenge the status quo and not parity among competitors. It will create places that blur the edges of shopping, transit dining, working, living, learning and leisure within a memorable architecture – a place of delight and surprise that exceeds all stakeholder expectations.