The Mall — Revisited

A short time ago I wrote a post that talked about the evolution of event marketing venues and the impact that alternative venues have had on the mainstay event venue of the last several decades, the American mall.

Well, the New York Times has an insightful article that also takes a good, long look at the evolving way consumers frequent the mall. It’s part microscope into the consumer’s mind, part reality check for the status of the mall in the consumer shopping hierarchy, and part hope for marketers.

The hope lies in the opportunity that the challenging economy (recession, if you will) presents for marketers. As the article notes:

We are reliably informed that whatever part of the economic crisis can’t be pinned on Wall Street — or on mortgage-related financial insanity — can be pinned on consumers who overspent. But personal consumption amounts to some 70 percent of the American economy. So if we don’t spend, we don’t recover. Fiscal health isn’t possible until money is again sloshing into cash registers, including those at this mall and every other retailer.

In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it’s part of the cure. And once we’re cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.

What that means is that old cliche — that true market leaders keep marketing through the downtimes so that they emerge stronger than ever when good times come back — is true. Times may be tough, but if you have customers — more importantly, if you want more customers in the future — you can’t go dark right now. Improve and fine-tune your brand and value proposition, ratchet up your customer service, look deeply at your ROI and spend on what works, get up-to-speed with SEO and Google and other channels you’re currently not in, focus your message on key benefits most important to your customers — just make sure you have a message out there. Be consistent, be seen, be reliable and flexible and accomodating to your customers.

Because good times will charge ahead again at some point, and if you stay strong now you’ll be even stronger then.

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