Light greenery christmas tree with red baubles, organic presents hanging from the ceiling and string lite and light greenery decoration on the columns inside the shopping center Schultheiss Quartier in the city of Berlin, Germany.
#Inspiration    21/08/2019

Making retail work for everyone

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Next month, we’ll be attending the ICSC Retail Innovation Forum and the theme for 2019 is “Making Innovation Work for Everyone”.

The theme triggered lots of discussions here at MK Illumination and we started asking our lighting experts for their opinions on how light can form part of how shopping centers, outlet centers, and retail spaces can make RETAIL work for everyone. This is a twist on ICSC’s theme, true, but one that yielded interesting input.

Here are 3 ideas to get you thinking.

Don’t just focus on “millennials”

Millennials tend to be the focus of a great deal of marketing and buzz in the retail space. We’re always trying to make solutions more “high tech” and “Instagrammable”, and we’re constantly thinking about how to deliver more than the online stores that so many people rely on.

BUT: the world is a big place. It’s full of people aren’t millennials – elderly shoppers with significant disposable incomes, busy mums and dads, middle-aged professionals, kids and youth who are great at influencing buying decisions but who don’t have their own income.

And of course, millennials aren’t all the same. The term “millennial” might be a handy way to define a marketing persona or target audience but like all humans, millennials are complex characters with rich identities: a millennial could also be a carer, a parent, a busy entrepreneur, someone with a disability, someone who is trying to consume less to help the planet, and so on.

What does this mean for retail spaces who are trying to “make retail work for everyone”? It means that a retail space needs to appeal to the needs and interests of a diverse group. It’s not enough to rely on stereotypes and personas.

How can light help you do that? Light is a form of communication that is understood by people regardless of gender, age, ability, sexual preference, job title, and stage of life. By building light into your innovation campaigns, you’re connecting with all of your visitors, whoever they might be.

Play with size and scale

Vast shopping spaces often feel the need to create attractions and experiences that are so innovative that people sometimes don’t understand them. Conversely, small shopping spaces are sometimes constrained by limited space or small budgets and can fall into the trap of “half-hearted” innovation, which can be worse than no innovation at all!

What does this mean for businesses in the retail real estate sector? Regardless of the size, scale, and shape of your retail space, it’s important that the way you’re investing in innovative experiences works for your center and makes sense to your audience.
It also means that it’s time to free yourself from the idea that “big is always best” or that “innovation is only for the guys with loads of budget”. Making retail work for everyone starts with creative thinking and ends with innovative implementation.

Light is a wonderful tool to help centers think creatively and create innovative experiences that transform shopping areas. If you’re on a budget, think about creating a light-filled experience over time by adding new light, light art, and engaging light displays each year to keep your center fresh and interesting. They can be small annual additions or standout talking pieces!

If you have a vast space to play with, consider creating a Light Trail that moves people through your space and gives tenants much-needed exposure. Combine light with playful stories, fun giveaways, or gamification to offer an experience that has to be “experienced in person”, and that is enhanced by light.

Don’t forget to add magic

If you’ve read the news over the last few years, you could be forgiven for thinking that the end of the world is just around the corner. Although there are many positive things happening around the world, it seems that the old adage about “good news not selling newspapers” is true and we are constantly bombarded by stories of war, crime, destruction, corruption and much, much more.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many of us want to escape into fantasy worlds where all the bad news seems far away?

This is an unmissable opportunity for shopping centers and retail spaces. Most centers know all about taking people away from the real world and into a place where it’s possible to be someone else, if only for a few hours. They know all about creating welcoming spaces and pleasant atmospheres. The question is: how successful are you in making the making this work for everyone?

We use light in many different ways to help retail spaces create pockets of magic that delight shoppers of all ages. From light-studded photo opportunities to illuminated grottoes for kids, and interactive walk-through Christmas trees to standalone compression zones that combine light, music, and comfort, there are countless ways to give shoppers a break from the real world and inject magic into their lives with the simple addition of light.

Do you have interesting ideas on how to make retail work for everyone?

If so, do share, we’d love to hear them.

Join us at the Retail Innovation Forum

We’re really looking forward to the Retail Innovation Forum and learning how industry thought-leaders in retail are making innovation work for everyone.

If you’re planning to be at the event, and you’d like to schedule some time to meet, get in touch. Or simply keep an eye out for our team and come over to say hello.

And if you’re not sure what we’re talking about, visit the Retail Innovation Forum’s website to learn more.

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