Guestblog from intu: Embracing new trends across our centres
Publish Date: 06 March 2018
By Rebecca Ryman, regional managing director, intu
I wear two hats when I visit a shopping centre; one as the customer and the other as the investigator. The latter, to enable me to see what is on trend and what shapes shopper behaviour. I also keep up to date with what customers are talking about and what trends we need to embrace so that we can continue to curate the very best shopping centres for customers to visit time and time again, thus helping all our retailers to flourish. Here are a few trends I’ve come across along the way and most importantly, trends we need to watch out for this year.
Let us entertain you
Social media allows us to share memories and this year it’s all about finding the most fantastic things to do in our spare time. We have two major retail and leisure extensions opening later this year and next. The first will open at intu Watford and then at intu Lakeside. Both extensions will feature fantastic leisure brands which fit the bill for what’s hot right now in the leisure industry. At intu Lakeside’s leisure extension, we’ll have Puttshack, a high-tech indoor mini-golf centre, Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s leading ten pin bowling operator, funky trampolining at Flip Out and Nickelodeon’s first indoor family entertainment centre in the UK– creating a one stop day out destination for all the family. At intu Watford, our 400,000 sq ft retail and leisure extension will include a nine-screen IMAX cinema - the first for the town, as well as a Hollywood Bowl and lots of great retail and catering brands including flagship stores from Superdry, H&M and Debenhams. All this will elevate Watford to a top 20 national retail destination in CACI’s ranking, it’s complementary retail and leisure offers continues to appeal to consumers drawing them in from further afield.
The nation’s (almost) turning vegan
This year, veganism is everywhere as thousands of people across the UK adopt the new trend in a bid to feel healthier, and of course, importantly to save our planet. We’re already seeing many of our own retailers adding vegan choices to their menus including Starbucks and GBK, and even cosmetic brands including Urban Decay, with vegan ingredients featured in its products. And, new independent brand Naked Dough, the UK’s first cookie dough retailer, have proven to be very popular with our customers at intu Lakeside, picking up on the latest trends by serving gluten-free, egg-free and vegan cookie dough options; because let’s face it, who can live without a bit of cookie dough! Will meat free Monday be as popular as Orange Wednesday?
Technology is transforming the way we shop more than ever before, and retailers are structuring their businesses to make the most that technology has to offer. Whether it’s making the shopping experience easier, more convenient, more enjoyable and ever-more personalised, technology is enabling retailers who embrace it to really stand out. A good example of this is Virgin Holidays who earlier this year launched a £450,000 V-room store at intu Chapelfield. This was complete with a virtual reality rollercoaster and complimentary cocktail bar. Created specifically for the store, the virtual reality rollercoaster took customers on a ride through the roof of intu Chapelfield, through space (passing a Virgin Galactic spacecraft) and straight to the Las Vegas Strip. When applied in this way, technology can really offer consumers a unique experience that helps them resonate with a brand on a whole other emotional level, so retailers able to think creatively will continue to flourish.
Staying ahead of the curve
As the owner and operator of many of the most popular retail and leisure destinations, we know how to create terrific spaces and by working with our retailers to embrace new trends we’re able to continue to appeal to our most valued stakeholder – the customer, and bring them from further and for longer, time and again.
Authored By Rebecca Ryman, regional managing director, intu