Retail marketing: keeping customers informed and happy
One of the specialities of Ceusters is retail marketing. This is designed to attract customers into the shopping centres which the company manages. Toon De Meester, Retail Operations Director and Zsofi Horvath, Marketing & Communication Manager Wijnegem, explain the various aspects which constitute successful retail marketing for Ceusters.
Shopping center marketing, they begin, consists mainly of three categories, events, communication, and decoration. Ceusters always tries to find the right mix between all of these while of course respecting the annual budget that has been set. Ceusters manages shopping centers with some of the largest budgets within the sector but also some of the lowest. Both require creativity because expectations from retailers and customers are high.
Events are footfall-activators and are designed for specific groups; families with children are often the target audience because they are an interesting type of customer (often with higher spending).
Where decoration is concerned, Ceusters always tries to include an interactive element... something the customer can do or manipulate that gives them an extra experience. Decoration is important because it can create a specific atmosphere that is appealing to the customer. The best example is Christmas decoration, but other decorations can also create a positive vibe within the centre. Events and decoration come together as the latter is an important part of the former.
Communication is the third element but is the one that has been growing massively in importance with the growth of social media, which offer such a wide variety of opportunities. It is also a fast evolving domain which makes keeping up to date with all latest evolutions a challenge. Every type of social media also appeals to different target audiences.
This means that events and tailor-made communication to the various target groups are two important pillars with which Ceusters can distinguish itself from shopping streets in cities and towns. Visitors know that there is always something going on in Wijnegem – Shop Eat Enjoy, for example. And in the current economic climate, the on-top experience offered free of charge is an important asset that is strongly emphasized. All actions are aimed at giving customers a pleasant shopping experience and ensuring that they enjoy their visit without any stress or cares.
Each channel also requires a specific approach, so where it used to be possible to create just one single communication, nowadays individual messages are required for each target group. And Ceusters also annually conducts market research to define evolution within the customer base. By analyzing the results, it is possible to define which groups Ceusters will try to attract within the next year. These groups can be defined by gender or age but also by geographical location. It should be noted, of course, that marketing campaigns have the objectives both of bringing in more visitors and of boosting sales.
Remaining with Wijnegem, a good example of communication involves finding your way around the centre. With 250 shops, this is not always obvious. Besides the classic leaflets available, visitors can find their way around via digital screens in various places. There is also an indoor navigation app which shows customers the way on their mobile phones.
The role of marketing has taken on an extra dimension in recent years, Toon De Meester and Zsofi Horvath point out, and will change significantly in the coming period. Wijnegem is a commercial organization that is obviously focused on profit maximization, but there is more. People also want to know why certain things are done. The human interest and the role of the greater society has an important role in marketing. A concrete example of this is ‘Teddy seats’. An award winning campaign was set up in the centre whereby customers were able to contribute by bringing in cuddly toys they no longer used. In total, more than 5,000 cuddly toys were collected from which teddy seats were made. These were donated to charities.
A collection point has also recently opened in Wijnegem where visitors can bring in their clothes, books, toys and small household appliances. This is how we all contribute to the circular economy. And last but not least, Ceusters is also putting huge effort into data marketing, with the objective of gaining a good understanding of visitors, as this is the only way the company can give them what they want and keep them happy. The marketing landscape is changing rapidly and Ceusters continues to make sure it is constantly up to speed.