Why brands want malls to be launch-pads for big debuts?
Why brands want malls to be launch-pads for big debuts?

When Italian brand Roberto Cavalli entered India in 2012 with its first store, it chose the premium luxury mall DLF Emporio in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area.  Three years later, when Juicy Couture -- the international track-pant brand made its Indian debut, it again chose Ambience Mall in Gurgaon. And so did H&M and Aeropostale when they launched in Select CITYWALK, Saket.

When the market opened up for FDI announcements, it paved the way for several renowned global brands to enter the Indian region with their flagship stores and most of them preferred to set up the stores in the legion of malls in the cities. Why do brands prefer to open outlets in malls rather than open standalone stores?

Malls support Marketing & Branding
For starters, once a brand signs up with a mall, the onus of advertising and branding for the big entree falls on the mall. It’s a safer bet because malls would go out of their way to ensure that the brand reaches a maximum audience and gets good promotion. Brands know what a mall can provide them in terms of generating brand advocacy and they often see malls as very powerful channels through which to reach their target consumer groups.

Standalone store not a cakewalk
As for opening a standalone, it is entirely the brand’s doing to advertise and create a set up. It’s hardly a cakewalk, especially with online business at its peak. In fact, recently, some brands like Florence Clothing Company closed all their stand-alone stores to offset slow growth and high operating cost and instead ventured into the digital world. The commitment to a standalone store is way too much work for a brand in terms of the logistics, the advertising, the publicity, the promotion and in the end the sale itself.

The ‘organised’ organised retail
Some years ago, it was the rise of brands that started driving the mall business in the country as the latter started proving to be apt retail spaces for the entering brands. As for shoppers, malls offer that larger-than-life experience of shopping where most things are taken care of and all that the shopper has to do is pick his merchandise in peace. The food, the parking, the comfort of the family, especially children, the choice of a leisure shopping experience etc are all available freely at the mall unlike at a standalone store. So, it is almost safe to say that malls have become the chosen avenue for organised retail.

As for the brands, they know this just too well. Most debutante global brands understand that the future of retail lies in the malls and hence make a beeline for the malls for their big fat debuts, some by even paying a premium to ensure a well-defined space. They know the catchment that a mall serves to and the target audience that it would cater to. The footfalls benefit both – the brand as well as the mall.

Brands also understand the psyche of the people and the whole ‘shopping experience’. It is one of the greatest factors in why people love going to malls. They want the experience of going shopping with their friends, family and loved ones. They want to stop at the food court, get something to drink, watch a movie, buy on impulse and talk about what they just bought or are going to buy. They want to show their friends and bask in the glory of their purchase. It makes them happy and this works for the brands.

So, even as more new brands like H&M and Gap enter malls, the trend continues.  In fact, Gap has already said that it will skip high streets in India. Malls, meanwhile, will keep wooing more and more new brands, bringing in more experiential shopping for its patrons and attracting more footfalls. It’s a win-win situation for each!


The article has been authored by Urvi Vira, Head Marketing, Growel’s 101 Mall.

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