Renaming its 41 shopping centres across Australia and New Zealand “living centres” is part of a radical rethink by Westfield, which has shifted its customer focus to include shoppers as well as tenants.

“For decades, our customer was the retailer, not the end customer,” acknowledged Bronwyn Cooper, head of content and programming at Scentre Group, which operates under the Westfield name.

“As we have wholly realised our business toward that end customer, it’s fundamentally changed the way we design our centres,” she told a recent conference in Sydney. (For more, read WARC’s report: How mall giant Westfield flipped on customer centricity.)

That includes not just how Westfield owns and operates them, but also how it looks for opportunities to connect brands with the seven million people who pass through its centres every month.

It now actively seeks out information from visitors to its centres and collects the sort of data it previously ignored when it was solely focused on its tenants. A proprietary platform aggregates data from multiple sources, including social media, to deliver up to 7,000 pieces of information the business had been missing out on.

It has used this to inform everything from the overall design and feel of its centres to the details that the local community will appreciate – like more seating in a centre serving an ageing demographic.

“We’re living in this sensorial space where we want people to come in and feel it, smell it, experience it,” explained Scentre Group’s senior retail designer, Alison Brown.

“We’re constantly trying to innovate looking at parks, resorts and five-star hotels. We say, ‘Oh, no. It’s a bit too much like a shopping centre. Let’s move on.’ We push ourselves all the time.”

Sourced from WARC