Bigger malls better for China

21 November 2014

HONG KONG: Chinese shoppers may have taken to online shopping with alacrity but they retain an enthusiasm for bricks and mortar, preferably larger malls, a study has shown.

CBRE, the commercial real estate firm, questioned over 11,000 consumers in 11 major countries across the Asia-Pacific region for its report How We Like To Shop. This found that affordability, cleanliness and security were among the factors shoppers of all ages valued most in a shopping centre for all age groups.

"The key message from consumers is clear – landlords and developers need to get the basics right," Jonathan Hsu, director of CBRE Research for Asia Pacific, told Jing Daily.

And within Greater China – which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as the mainland – the report said that shoppers overwhelmingly preferred to visit large malls.

Two thirds (66%) of respondents in this market liked to shop in a mall with at least 50 stores. Around one in five (22%) chose smaller shopping centres while 12% stuck to street shopping.

And those people going to big malls also expect to see big shops rather than a profusion of small outlets. "Bigger means better" for this region, the report said, as it noted the growth in flagship stores in recent years.

It recommended mall owners should "focus on providing a well-rounded experience to their customers" including a good mix of retail tenants and a broad selection of food and beverage outlets.

The region's consumers have also observed an increase in entertainment facilities along with more events, performances and exhibitions as mall owners seek to offer a "retailtainment" experience that drives footfall and increases the amount of time shoppers spend at the venue.

In the future, 80% of survey respondents said they would continue to shop as often or more in a physical store. But an even greater proportion – 85% – said they planned to shop online more than they do now.

"Retail landlords will have to integrate this platform into their overall strategy to remain competitive and, ultimately, to survive," said the report.

That meant developing innovative ways to reach consumers. Sebastian Skiff, CBRE's executive director of retail services for Asia, suggested using big data techniques to track "likes" and "check-ins" on social media in order to formulate a tailored marketing strategy.

And shopping centre apps with special offers and contests could boost user engagement and help build customer loyalty.

Data sourced from CBRE, Jing Daily; additional content by Warc staff