As we endure what we hope to be the last of winter snow storms, we remain hopeful that sunny days and high temperatures are just around the corner. With warm weather comes relaxing pool days, lively outdoor barbeques and family trips to the Jersey Shore. For retailers and businesses however, warmer months means the dramatic reality of customers spending less. The hustle and bustle of the holidays have long since passed leaving the hallways of the mall much calmer. In order to offset the lack of foot traffic into brick and mortar locations, retailers and businesses in the area are getting creative in order to bring the customers back into the store.
Local shopping hub King of Prussia Mall is paving the way when it comes to unconventional mall events. This SIMON location acts as the “sole outpost” in Philadelphia for a number of high end retailers including Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Nordstrom, which gives them a huge advantage over other shopping locations in the area.
With warm weather quickly approaching, the KOP Marketing Team is putting together countless events. “KOP has a heavy spring marketing calendar, hosting numerous events and programs that drive traffic and sales, and reinforce the mall’s image as a leader in the retail world and in the community” said Kathy Smith, KOP’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. The goal of many of these events is to create an experience for the customer that they would not get from simply shopping online.
The events are going beyond the standard shop and save mindset that has previously dominated the retail industry. These events are providing an atmosphere people want to be a part of, an atmosphere that can only be experienced while standing in the store. Various stores all over the mall are offering “sips and snacks” which often include champagne and wine accompanied by cheese trays and assortments of colorful macaroons. Other locations are offering various demonstrations and samples to supplement the customer’s shopping experience and make it more interactive.
“During the summer months, customers are traveling more and spending less on consumer goods, so marketing strategy tends to focus more on community support programs, customer service and image-building,” said Smith. Supporting the community is very important to both SIMON and KOP and that is reflected in the events they host.
SIMON kicked off the season of diverse events a few weeks ago with “KOP Shops for CHOP” on Saturday, March 10. This “charitable day of shopping” donated a portion of all purchases at participating locations directly to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This event was a new component to dineKOP Restaurant Week, an event developed in partnership with the King of Prussia Business Improvement District to increase patronage of their dining locations. “Percentage-of-sales donations are very rare in the retail industry, so having key retailers like Athleta, Lilly Pulitzer, Tadashi Shoji, Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Bahama, South Moon Under, Clarks, St. John, Tory Burch, Ted Baker, Marmi and Touche Accessories participate was phenomenal,” said Kathy Smith. These locations raised over $6,000 for CHOP with just one day of shopping.
Smith states, “King of Prussia’s marketing program is a combination of local and corporate promotions and programs, all produced and managed with King of Prussia’s retail mix and customer base in mind.” Community partners include Best Buddies, Our Closet, Cradles to Crayons, the Philadelphia Suns, Autism Speaks, the Upper Merion Township Police, KOP Rotary, Scoliosis Foundation, Morris Animal Refuge, Cookies for Kids Cancer and many others. Upcoming events include registration for the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” right in the mall on April 14 as well as a Mother’s Day Pet Adoption in partnership with the Morris Animal Refuge on May 12.
Just a few weeks ago, Athleta hosted an event in partnership with PALS and their latest venture, The Congratulations Project. PALS is an organization founded in Philadelphia that provides an inclusive environment for individuals with Down syndrome. This event focused on promoting the launch of The Congratulations Project, a book which features a number of letters that current campers wrote to mothers who are expecting children with Down syndrome. “It’s really exciting that Athleta and KOP have invited us to be a part of their community and helped us reach a broader audience” said JoAnn Clark a PALS Ambassador.
For KOP veterans this new “event-focused” marketing plan offers things that the mall has never seen before. Whether it is with the tropical sounds of the steel drum echoing down the hall from the island life brand Tommy Bahama or taking a test ride on a Peloton spin bike while shopping for clothing in Robert Graham, nearly every retailer is changing the way they bring customers into the store.
When it comes to large-scale mall wide events, SIMON and KOP work with over 450 retailers and restaurants in order to make the events a success. With a jam-packed event schedule for spring and summer, this can be a daunting task for mall management. “Depending on the nature of the event, we personally connect with retail store managers or corporate marketing people via e-mail and telephone, as well. In some cases, we may need to connect solely with restaurant managers, apparel store managers or stores within a certain area of the mall, for example. In other cases, we need every store manager in the mall to be aware of an upcoming event or opportunity,” said Smith.
In addition to specific events in store, retailers are beginning to work together to share the wealth of customers and cross clientele them. KOP newcomer and at home exercise bike company Peloton, has begun to pioneer this type of strategy. Peloton works to host an event nearly every weekend whether it be in their studio or bringing the studio into another location. With new live and on-demand rides coming out daily, the KOP Peloton hosts events in their studio that coincide with the themes of certain rides. So far this year they have hosted the “Give Yourself Some Love” event for Valentine’s Day which featured treats from fellow KOP storefront Lolli and Pops and facials from Aveda. Last summer, they had great success with their “Summer Carnival” event and they plan on doing something even bigger this year.
KOP shoppers have a lot to look forward to as we move into the spring and summer months. These events have already begun to drive foot traffic into the mall as the hallways are beginning to hustle and bustle again despite the prospect of warm weather activities.
Rachel Spurlock is the second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. ✉ RS874054@wcupa.edu.