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Adapting to changing retail demands has its benefits
Red Pixel

Stuart Hill of design agency Red Pixel, a Primedia Lifestyle Group company that falls within Primedia Unlimited’s Mall Division, says that businesses have to adapt to survive a constantly changing landscape.

Certainly in the mall marketing industry, budgets have shrunk but client’s demands are higher than ever. This means that the quality of work produced needs to exceed expectations. Not to mention that the turnaround time to get work out has become faster than ever. So what’s a business to do?

Malls are using a greater share of their budgets on alternative advertising methods. So essentially, suppliers need to deliver original, affordable, high quality work very quickly in order to attract the business. Design agencies like ours also need to pay better salaries to attract the best creative and production people to ensure we are able to innovate and stay ahead of the curve. The pressure is on from every direction, and it’s not slowing down.

Based on our experience in the malls, many high end shopping centres like Menlyn for instance, are demanding a more strategic approach from their creative partners, rather than just focusing on the design element – which I think is fantastic! After all, client objectives have to be looked at first before any conceptualising can start and a creative plan is laid out.

An example of a recent innovative campaign that had a strong strategic undercurrent is the 3D window displays we produced for Cradlestone Mall. The three dimensional artwork illustrated a complete shop in a space that would traditionally be empty, thereby defining a sense of belonging and completing the entire visual picture of what the mall would look like once all tenants were in place. The main objective was to create beautiful display areas that would showcase various elements expected in a shopping mall, for example, hairdressers, fashion stores and shoe boutiques.

Another example is the campaign theme and brand we developed for The Pavilion refurbishment. ‘The Incredible Journey’ was the underlying theme for this project. It had to be optimistic and connect with people on an emotive level. Any refurb of a centre is disruptive to its shoppers so it was vital that the incredible journey campaign reminded consumers of the soon to be reinvigorated centre with new possibilities that were on the horizon.

We are finding ourselves engaging with clients on more impactful projects that require more creativity and innovation than in the past.  It’s true our industry has become incredibly fast paced, but the real challenge is to not lose the big idea and strategic direction amid all the madness.

The market has become more sophisticated, the competition pool is opening up while budgets are shrinking. To counter the squeeze the industry is currently feeling, we’ve taken a strong hard look at our processes, to ensure we get the best possible work out in the shortest possible time.

Malls are brands in their own right and historically have not necessarily been treated with the same respect that for instance big consumer brands with big budgets have been treated with. This has changed significantly with each individual mall demanding and requiring a personal and crafted brand identity that positions it uniquely in the minds of consumers.

At the end of the day the change we’re experiencing now is not going to slow down, and we have to adapt to it or we will become obsolete. As an industry, we need to embrace it and roll with it, constantly evolving and innovating, re-looking processes and structures. Design agencies need to offer clients new and fresh ideas all the time, and that’s what we strive to do.