What do consumers want from their shopping centers?
Are shopping centers still popular? In recent years, shopping centers have sometimes been called into question for a number of reasons such as the numbers of visitors declining in some places, the rise of e-commerce, the propensity for local trade, etc.
A recent study entitled « Les attentes des Français à l'égard des ensembles commerciaux » (or The expectations of French consumers towards shopping centers) provides some interesting information on this issue. The survey was carried out by ObSoCo (Observatoire Société et Consommation) on behalf of JMP Expansion, and was conducted online from the 26th till the 31st March 2021 among a sample of 1,000 people in metropolitan France, aged between 18 and 70.
The aim of the survey was to find out what the French expect from shopping centers in order to establish their ideal characteristics and preferences in terms of experiences.
80% of French people visit and appreciate the concept
In terms of drawing visitors, the numbers are quite good. The survey shows that 80% of French people frequently visit shopping centers. As for the profile of visitors, the study shows that they are consumers of all age groups.
On the other hand, in terms of enjoyment, opinions are a little more critical as the overall average note is only 5.9 out of ten.
Today, consumers expect the shopping centers to offer them
- A wide choice of brands (85%),
- A positioning with attractive prices (73%)
- A well-kept layout (73%)
But we can also add expectations that are in line with a spirit of better consumption with: an appetite for quality products (62%), the search for live experiences to test and experiment with branded products (61%), the desire to take part in workshops to learn about new things (43%) and finally the preference for open-air locations (44%) and in contact with nature (38%).
And if we ask the consumers questioned what future shopping centers should offer, we find a current trend very much in evidence: local (66%).
In addition to this local aspect, we also find recycling centers, which rank second in the expectations of the French (42%), ahead of parks for picnics, vegetable gardens or educational spaces, each of which appeal to a third of respondents.
In detail, temporary shops and experiences are of particular interest to younger people, while older people are more attracted to local products, and families show a great appetite for leisure activities, particularly for children.
What about e-commerce?
Well, it seems that the addition of an online sales site offering the same choice of shops and the same offers as in the center in real time appeals to 6 out of 10 French people, and more particularly to regular customers who are very interested in this option. It is also interesting to note that half of those interested say they are prepared to collect their purchases on the spot rather than have them delivered, with the e-commerce site thus playing a dual role as a sales channel but also as a lever for creating traffic towards physical shops.
In conclusion, what can we learn from the survey?
Out of this research, we can in fact note that:
- visiting shopping centers remains a popular practice,
- the first expectations are consumerist expectations,
- but the consumer still thinks about consuming better,
- and finally, there is an interest in working on the physical/virtual convergence
In short, let's remember that shopping centers are not yet obsolete. But to ensure their durability, it will be necessary to work on the pleasure and the experience in a sustainable way.
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