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How OOH is transforming the shopping experience

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I admit it! I’m a shopping addict. I always have been.

As such, I’ve clocked up countless hours in retail outlets over the years, and witnessed some major changes in the shopping ‘experience’ during that time.

Gone are the days of bland, uninviting concrete monstrosities that dominate the skyline. Today’s shopping centres are spacious, light and airy buildings, designed to attract the consumer and put them at ease. Most importantly, this agreeable environment encourages people to spend more time there, and consequently more money. So great news for retailers but bad news for me.

People now expect and demand a more positive and sophisticated shopping experience on the whole. This includes advertising, as the two are so inextricably linked. So just as the physical retail space has transformed, so too has the advertising within it. Out-of-home (OOH) ads are now bolder, more creative and eye-catching, and situated in non-obtrusive, yet carefully selected locations that provide maximum exposure to the consumer.

Brands and advertisers cannot stand still for long in today’s highly competitive and saturated media landscape. They must constantly innovate, thinking of new and more creative ways to engage more discerning audiences that have become desensitised to the sea of brands constantly promoting their goods and services.

Out-of-home ad displays increasingly need to draw on the latest dynamic, intuitive and interactive technologies to grab the attention of today’s shopper. Creating genuine brand experiences that engage, involve and add genuine value to the consumers shopping trip is what will prove successful in today’s retail environments.

Creating Brand Experiences

Shopping brand, Westfield, has created retail sites that have broken the mould and re-defined the shopping experience. Shopping is no longer a chore; it has become the new entertainment channel. This has been achieved through savvy positioning. By marketing its centres as ‘Platforms for Fame’, Westfield has not only created a shopper’s paradise, but an all-purpose entertainment hub where consumers can eat, drink, catch a film, or spot a celebrity.

Back in November 2012, famous US reality TV-stars, The Kardashians, promoted the launch of their new clothing line with a ‘Kountdown’ at the Dorothy Perkins flagship store at Westfield London. It was pandemonium, with hardcore Kardashian fans camping out in the shopping centre, desperate to see the TV stars. Similarly, when Leicester Square was in the midst of refurbishment, the majority of movie premieres were re-located to Westfield, bringing thousands of film fans along too. Westfield not only succeeded in driving traffic to its site, but also made its London centre a real ‘platform for fame’. Consumers now associate Westfield with celebrity, and therefore, entertainment.

To compliment Westfield’s ‘Platform for Fame’ offering, CBS has evolved the ad formats available to brands. From interactive LCD screens to experiential formats, the technology on offer to advertisers allows Westfield London’s two million monthly visitors get involved and become part of the brand experience. ‘Sound showers’, for example, allow brands to promote themselves on large display screens, while accompanying audio plays on speakers located in the floor, thus allowing the consumer to enjoy a more immersive experience. Similarly, experiential advertising can also attract the consumer’s attention in a unique way. Recently, Canon recruited shoppers to trail its cameras on their shopping trips, with the best photos being featured on large LCD displays at the heart of Westfield Stratford.

CBS sum things up quite aptly: “Gone are the days of the pure ‘spend spend spend’ mentality. As consumers expect to get something a little bit extra for free, and temporary events, such as music, fashion and film are what attract people to an area.”

Conclusion

There are now around 819 shopping malls in the UK, with 32,000 stores in the top 500 alone, and £285 billion spent each year. The market is bigger than ever but equally more competitive than ever.

So today, advertisers have to work harder and more creatively to grab the attention of the consumer. It is vital in this day and age to think differently and smarter to cut through the media noise. It is no longer good enough to just communicate a message to get a response a response – advertisers need to entertain and engage the consumer.

Published on Tuesday 01 October by Editorial Assistant

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