Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT 236 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 C onsumer expectations and inno- vation in technology have caused a dramatic shift in the retail, hos- pitality and gaming industries. In years past, project teams in these industries have created environments that primarily focus on how the space looks. Advancements in technology and a greater need for physi- cal and digital connectedness have made these project teams realize the impact of an environment encompasses more than simply visual appeal. To create a truly distinguishing experience for customers, project designers, contractors, owners and developers are now tasked with cre- ating atmospheres that touch each of the five senses. The millennial generation, in particular, is driving this trend. Various industries are working harder in 2016 to engage with millennial consum- ers. According to a study from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, a surprising 56 percent of millennials reported feeling disconnected from the physical world in the digital age. With this generation con- stantly connected to their smartphones – yet seemingly disconnected from their surroundings as a result — the demand for retailers and other gaming venues to create a multi-sensory connection is essential if the desire is to create unfor- gettable experiences. Additionally, the rise of online shopping platforms makes physical locations the only opportunity retailers have to engage the five senses of their customers. THE INFLUENCE OF THEME-PARK DESIGN The key ingredient in customer engage- ment is the integration of multi-sensory de- sign concepts that have been implement- ed by theme-park designers for decades. Historically, theme parks have created dynamic experiences for all five senses. Think Disneyland. Delicious smells flow- ing through the air, upbeat music playing wherever you go, hands-on experiences and beautiful scenery all combined to create lasting memories for each visitor. When guests leave, they cannot necessar- ily pinpoint the one thing that made the experience so unique and memorable, yet it has left them wanting to come back for more. Theme park designers may have been the first to embrace multi-sensory concepts, but designers, developers and general contractors in the retail, hospital- ity and gaming industries are looking at it in a completely new way as a solution to the millennial desire for connectedness in everyday experiences. This is a direct outcome of two key factors. THE NEED FOR MORE MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES First, millennials crave experiences rather than things. According to J. Wal- ter Thompson Intelligence, 72 percent of this generation claim to desire experienc- es that stimulate their senses and want to spend their hard-earned money accord- ingly. As such, it is no longer sufficient for retailers, hospitality and gaming venues to create an atmosphere that simply looks inviting. These experiences must become adventures composed of lasting impres- sions and emotional memories triggered by all five senses. Second, for the millennial generation, memories and emotional connections are everything. Reminiscing has become not only an internal and personal experience, but social media outlets and smartphone apps have made sharing memories a social experience in itself. In a world where not only what you are doing today is broad- casted over social media, but also what you've done every year on this day for the last 10 years, millennials may experience an intense fear of missing out almost dai- ly. This fear drives millennials to engage in more meaningful experiences they can share with the world and reflect for years to come. THE FIVE SENSES: WHICH HAVE THE MOST IMPACT? The needs of key demographics are ev- er-changing in the retail, hospitality and gaming space. Bringing the multi-senso- ry experience to the next level requires innovative construction techniques and unique collaborations with design-build teams. Three of the five senses are espe- cially significant to this holistic approach. The Driving Force Behind Multi-Sensory Design Technology and the millennial generation are pushing retail owners, designers and contractors to create new environments focused on more than visual appeal. Scott Acton Carbone at The Aria in Las Vegas uses the sense of sound to its advantage.

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