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Build a mall as a brand
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-01-26 City : Chennai

Over 60 per cent of visitors enter mails to watch a movie in a multiplex, or to eat at a food court.

     Only about 30 per cent enter a mall to shop! “A good percentage just came to hang out;” the average expenditure, according to a research study, was Rs 200.

     These are some of the disturbing findings in ‘Malls in India’ (www.imagesfashion.com).

     “A movie theatre may be a good way to attract crowds to a mall, but it is also a hugely dangerous feature,” cautions one of the essays.

     “If you have a movie theatre in your mal, people come there and occupy your parking area for two or three hours at a time, generating no revenue for your tenants,” the author, Pandrang Row of Vertebrand Management Consulting, argues.

     “In fact, they are creating no revenue for the mall beyond Rs. 250 for the movie tickets and Rs. 50 parking fee. Rs. 300 for three hours spent at the mall? Devastating!”

     Build a mall as a brand, he advises. Ruing that most mall builders harbour the untenable belief, ‘Build it and they will come, ‘Row describes the predictable scenario, thus ‘A builder finds a nice plot of land near a good neighbourhood, a college or some ,electricity’ and assumes that the location is perfect for a mall. 

     The conviction is based almost entirely on gut feel   and a vague idea that there are lost of youngsters from colleges, BPOs and IT companies in the area who are generally ‘well-paid’ and will therefore have cash to spend”.

     Oftentimes, these calculations don’t work out, because your mall is not a brand, reasons Row.

     A mall is not a building it is a product, he educates. “Building a mall brand cannot begin after you’ve found some land and built a swank steel, concrete and glass structure. It must begin well before that.”

     But how does a mall become a brand? By giving customers a unique experience, the author explains. The first step, he says, is the identification of your customers and the catchment area.

     “What kind of people do you think the mall should attract? And where are they going to be coming from?”

     There are more questions you need to find answers for: “Do your preferred customers like large, expansive, impersonal public places? Or small, intimate, personalized spaces? Are they gourmets?.... Do they have cars? motorcycles?”

     In sum, you must identify your mall brand’s value propositions before talking to the architect, interior designer and the landscape people.

     “For example, you may want a drive-in portico so that a customer can either be dropped off by her chauffer, or leave her car for valet parking. Alternatively, you may want a place where youngsters are comfortable, so you’ll have more place for parking two-wheelers,”

     Then you have to decide what the customers sees the first thing, on entering. “Should your customers be greeted by wood and plush carpeting? Should they step into an atmosphere of gleaming chrome and glass? Should the décor include beanbags and balloons? Or should it consist of champagne glasses and leather armchairs?”

     Make sure that they the building is populated by brands that communicate the right message by their very existence, counsels Row.

     “You cannot have a Cartier in a mall that’s targeting parents with children. You cannot have a McDonald’s cheek-and-jowl with Rolls-Royce… not because you physically can’t, but because brand logic goes against the idea.”

     To those who have done their homework with mall brand’ the takeaway is that product and service brands will instantly see the relevance of being in the mall!

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