MUMBAI: India’s e-commerce businesses tend to grab the headlines but the digital world accounts for a fraction of retail sales and brands can still achieve successful outcomes in the real world by working closely with shopping malls.

Grand launches have become a trend in experiential marketing in India, as brands opening new stores or launching new products utilise both their own marketing skills and leverage the additional local expertise of mall owners and their social media reach and engagement.

So, for example, when phone brand Xiaomi introduced its MI brand in its store in Bengaluru’s Phoenix Marketcity mall, it was able to tap into mall branding support, with lots of visibility at prominent locations in and around the mall, and to gain extended space to set up additional points of sale.

“We received an astounding 8,000+ online pre-booking registrations plus another 500 on-ground registrations on the day of the launch,” Gajendra Singh Rathore, Centre Director, Phoenix Marketcity, told India Retailing.

Those numbers translated into record-breaking sales of “Rs 5 crore in just 12 hours with 5,712 units sold on the day of the launch itself”.

If this story was largely about the logistics of managing the crowds, other malls have taken more dramatic steps to accommodate brands. Last year, the exterior of New Delhi’s Pacific Mall was painted blue in honour of the arrival of global apparel retailer GAP.

“We received tremendous support for GAP’s launch,” said Parag Dani, Business Head, GAP India, Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd.

“The mall team was helpful with our initiatives – right from helping us identify the right spaces to advertise in and outside the mall to letting customers know about the launch through their own outreach.”

A similar launch in Mumbai saw the brand work with the city’s dabbawalas, who, in addition to delivering lunches also delivered an invitation to the store opening and a GAP tee-shirt to influential names and personalities.

Such partnerships work for both parties, said Rathore. “From the brand’s point of view it generates curiosity, increases brand awareness. There is better brand recall, it provides positive customer experience and hence leads to word-of-mouth sales.

“From a mall point of view, it leads to an increase in footfalls and conversions.”

Sourced from India Retailing; additional content by WARC staff