With retail rapidly evolving and consumers’ desire for experience mounting, malls are in a position to reach unprecedented levels of relevance. Malls can become important to people not only as places to spend their money and their time, but also as living brands that are important in facilitating or creating meaningful experiences. It’s clear that malls need to become much more than a collection of stores and the physical space that connects them. But what should they be? What could they be? There’s more than one answer and that’s why the topic of mall branding is so interesting. By thinking and acting like luxury brands, malls – luxury, premium or otherwise – could become hyper-relevant to consumers’ lives.
1. Concept is King: Mall operators should push even harder to develop concept-driven mall brands, and to harness the power of luxury positioning, aesthetics and tactics. Mall brands built around an enhanced focus on lifestyle and pyschography will win out over older ideas like convenience or broad selection. Mass brands need to reach as many people as possible, so by design, they have to be diverse. So luxury mall brands should be conceived around more unified consumer interests. For example, an active lifestyle mall brand would be crafted and would behave in ways very different from a fashion-forward mall brand. This doesn’t limit the types of stores, but rather it focuses them around consumer mindset and interest allowing people to feel a deeper connection and allegiance with that property. It’s about replacing breadth with depth in a time when specialization is highly valued.
2. Keep Calm and Carry On: Malls should create, design, launch and interact with strength, poise and confidence. Well-branded malls will be cognizant and in control of every touch point. After all, they know they’re only as strong as their weakest one. Only by executing and expressing their brands and missions to the world in compelling and evocative ways can mall brands truly be greater than the sum of their parts.