Wednesday, October 12, 2011: 03:45:33 PM

TJCD Guest Column

Indian Malls – Ambiance is the magic word: Shubhranshu Pani of JLL India

Mall psychology is based on the knowledge of how customers approach a store, where they will hesitate, how to influence their mood and excite their desires and play to their aspirations

A mall must be a refuge from humdrum everyday life – an alternative world where everything new and desirable is available. The architecture of a mall’s external surface must be enticingly futuristic to announce excitement and ultimate shopping ease. To complete the ambiance, the inside of a mall must live up to the expectations that the exterior has bred.

 
Ease of transit across various levels, informed shop location based on established buying habits, patterns and easy accessibility to all shops on each level are primary considerations during the planning phase. A good rule of thumb is that the bigger a mall is, the likelier it is to attract footfalls. Thereafter, customer loyalty comes from the overall excitement that the shopping experience offers. However, I differ from the statement that ‘malls are designed for the benefit of the customers’. For me, they are designed to sell products.
 
Designing, a key factor
 
A mall must wear an enticingly progressive look – but from then onward, it needs to be designed in a manner that lures customers to shop and spend in both subtle and overt ways. Mall psychology is based on the knowledge of how customers approach a store, where they will hesitate, how to influence their mood and excite their desires and play to their aspirations.
 
Everything in a mall and its stores, from lighting to floor colour to music to how goods are displayed, must be designed to get people to not just shop, but spend. A successful mall is designed in such a manner that the mixture of stores is balanced and attractive.
 
To create a perfect ambiance inside the mall for the customers the only thing required is money. The total expenditure incurred on the project, can therefore, be divided in the ratio of 60:40, which says 40% is spent on building the structure and 60% on the interiors and designing of the mall.
 
The rent of a shop in a mall depends on many factors, such as the total number of shops of the same type in the mall, the size of the shop and the possible synergy effects with neighbouring shops of similar type. However, one of the most decisive factors is the attractiveness of the area in which the shop is, and this is decided by the designing of that space. The rent is definitely affected by a mall’s design.
 
With non-availability of quality space at affordable prices in the cities, India is now following the US trend of providing multi-activity mixed-used centres. Another international concept picking up fast in the country is malls located by the highways. The format works because people are generally willing to spend when on holiday. Whether it is Western Express Highway in Mumbai or Outer Ring Road in Bengaluru, MG Road in Gurgaon or EM Bypass in Kolkata, the concept of malls by major highways is a fast-emerging trend. Yet another trend of specialty malls is also rearing its head, but its applicability in the Indian context is yet to be proven.
 
Shubhranshu Pani, Managing Director (Retail Services) at Jones Lang LaSalle India

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