When the first mall in the U.S. was built in 1956, it was perceived as a revolutionary concept. The ability to access a plethora of brands under one roof was both a novelty and a luxury. However, in recent years, the fervor and excitement surrounding shopping malls have fizzled out. The comfort of online shopping has given mall operators a run for their money.
Rapid modernization has made things worse as many consumers no longer have the time to go out for shopping. Thus, it is no longer enough for a shopping mall to be a hub of fashion and retail brands. Mall operators are struggling to devise new ways that will help them increase foot traffic. This creates the opportunity to develop a unique and value-added experience that will compel your mall shoppers to visit.
One of the most effective ways of increasing foot traffic and to fill empty space is to combine retail therapy with food and beverages. Apart from swanky food courts, many modern malls feature a wide array of cafes, fast food joints, and fine dining restaurants. Here are a few ways in which food and dining boost foot traffic:
1. An Opportunity To Socialize
Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has left people with little time to spare for themselves. They can no longer afford the luxury of spending countless hours hopping from one store to another. If they manage to take precious time out of their hectic schedules, they’d like to spend it with their family and friends. Moreover, lucrative discounts offered by e-commerce businesses further dissuade them from shopping at malls.
If your mall features a variety of dining options, it gives consumers a chance to spend quality time with their loved ones. It transforms a day of shopping into a fun family outing, thus creating a wholesome and memorable experience for visitors. This gives consumers an additional and more compelling reason to step out of their living space and visit your mall.
2. Increased Brand Awareness
It has become almost customary for people to upload pictures or check-ins on social media whenever they visit a new place. This practice is particularly common whenever they are eating out and celebrating with their loved ones. When they visit a restaurant at your mall and tag it in their social media posts, it increases your reach and visibility.
You can use this to your advantage by encouraging customers to tag your mall in exchange for a discount. This helps you grab the attention of an audience that would’ve remained inaccessible through conventional marketing tactics. When people see their friends having a good time at a mall, they will be more likely to check it out.
3. A Plethora Of Options
The beauty of a shopping mall is that it offers a wide variety of dining options. From pocket-friendly fast-food joints and cafes to high-end restaurants and pubs - the possibilities are endless. It helps attract traffic from different walks of life, across various age groups and professions. It is also an effective technique of luring large groups or families with varied preferences. This is a unique feature that distinguishes shopping malls from conventional eateries.
4. Harness New Audiences
Most fast-food chains and fine dining restaurants boast a loyal audience. When your mall is associated with a reputed food and beverage (F&B) brand, you get a chance to tap into their audience network. This is particularly useful when you’re trying to break into new markets and target new demographics, especially millennials and Gen Z. It also helps you piggyback on the marketing strategies of your F&B partners.
For instance, the idea of going to a mall for the sole purpose of shopping may not appeal to tech-savvy millennials. Instead, they will likely swoon over a new Game of Thrones-themed cafe. They may even go to great lengths to visit this cafe, even if it is not situated in their neighborhood. Imagine the number of new visitors your mall would attract if the cafe were located inside its premises!
5. Create A Buzz
You can collaborate with F&B brands to curate pop-up food outlets. Such outlets usually offer something unique and are available from limited time. This helps create a sense of urgency and stirs a conversation around your mall. Moreover, it helps piques the curiosity of your existing clientele and renews their interest.
It is, however, crucial to ensure that the pop-up outlet has an exclusive menu that isn’t available at other food joints. The key to driving foot traffic with pop-ups is to develop a powerful pop-up marketing strategy. Make sure you leverage social media platforms and influencers to get the word out even before the outlet is opened.
6. Enhanced Retention
Food courts and dining options are great tools to lure visitors to spend more time at the mall than they’d intended to. When they stay for longer, they may even end up inviting their friends to hang out with them. Apart from increasing foot traffic, it compels them to check out everything that your mall offers. For instance, you can curate live performances and art installations to create an exclusive experience for visitors.
You also get the opportunity to boost sales by driving visitors to various stores. This, in turn, converts visitors into paying customers and increases revenue. for your tenants All you have to do is send notifications about ongoing discounts and deals to visitors who are connected to your guest Wi-Fi. You can even use a proximity marketing system for this purpose.
Shopping malls are no longer considered as retail therapy hubs. Instead, they are vibrant cultural centers where people go to unwind in their free time. From movie theaters and gaming zones to live concerts and events - mall operators leverage new tactics to attract more visitors.
Introducing a variety of dining options to this mix creates an unforgettable experience for visitors. Moreover, food joints and restaurants help you target new audience members who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in shopping at your mall. It widens your reach and sparks meaningful conversations about your mall.