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3 customer insights essential to shopping mall marketing (Examples incl.)

8/10/18 3:30 PM by Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Digitalisation is happening. Customers are spending more time online than ever, and for some reasons shopping malls are challenged following along the digital trends. In this post we will investigate the important role of customer insights in shopping mall marketing.

This post is in-depth, so to make life easier. I've broken each section down into more detail. Click a link below to jump to a section.

From mass marketing to personalised experiences

In the past years we have seen a shift in shopping mall marketing. For many years the focus have been on mass marketing such as newspaper, magazines, billboards, TV-commercial etc., but now customers’ expectations and behaviour have changed, and shopping malls have to focus on a more segmented and personalised communication.

Digitalisation is happening. Customers are spending more time online than ever, and for some reasons shopping malls are challenged following along the digital trends. In this post we will investigate the important role of customer insights in shopping mall marketing.

Table showing why mass marketing is a bad idea 

The graph shows that more people get irritated by commercials and less people are positively impacted by them. It is a clear sign that shopping malls needs to move away from the traditional ways of doing mass marketing, and start by providing personalised experiences.

To move towards a more personalised customer communication, it is important to start by considering whether the right communication platforms are being used or not.

50% of all retail purchases are influenced by online research before buy

The Forrest

We see that more than half of all retail transactions in physical shops are digitally influenced, so the digital platforms needs to be prioritised. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Customer have increased time spent on mobile when visiting the mall
  • Digital platforms have the opportunity to collect customer- insights, behaviour and provide content based on that.

Further reading

I have created a Case Study showing how a leading shopping mall implemented customer insights. 

Click here to read it.

Infi kiost at centre midt

3 essential customer insights

To be able to provide customers with a personalised experience you need customer insights, and to gain customer insights digital platforms are a great asset. But what customer insights do you need to provide customers with relevant content?


1. Customer demographics

To target customers with relevant content it is of course important to know their demographics. For a shopping mall the following is important:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Distance to mall

These demographic insights are important to malls as the malls’ offering typically covers a very broad target group. Age, gender and distance to mall helps to create rough segments.


2. Customer interests and preferences

To increase relevance in the communication it is important to know the interests of every single customers. For a mall these insights would be:

  • What stores do they like?
  • What campaigns do they interact with?
  • What events are relevant?

These insights tells even more about the customer than basic demographics. Imagine if a shopping mall would be able to provide each customer only with products and campaigns from stores of interest?


3. Customer profitability

The last and most important area is the actual insights that tells how loyal or profitable the single customer is for the mall. These insights include:

  • Visit frequency in the mall
  • Transaction insights


By having access to these insights, the mall will be able to measure the effects of the communication in hard numbers. Furthermore, the mall will get the opportunity to segment customers based on how much they buy and how often they visit. This allows the mall to work more like online webshops and marketplaces work, and it gives the mall the insights on which customers they need to improve the experience for to keep them as good customers.

Pro tip

Emplates solutions can provide shopping malls with all these insights. Here is case on how important it was for the danish shopping herningCentret.

 Case study: herningCentret one year after launching an app

The win-win agreement 

Teenagers pointing at the centerscreen

 We have now established the ideal picture from a mall marketing perspective, where the above mentioned customer insights are available for each customer. The only problem is that this is not the case for most shopping malls, and the reason for that is that every customer needs to give the mall both permission and access to these insights, and there has to be a motive for the customer to do so.

To achieve permission and access to these customer insights the mall has to think in a win-win agreement between the mall and the customer. The mall has to show the customer that by collecting their personal information, they will get an extra value.

The value drivers in shopping malls could be:

  • Increased convenience
  • Increased relevance in communication
  • Access to extra savings


Digital shopping mall concepts where the customers get more shopping convenience, increased relevance and savings are proven to work.

Examples of extra value

  • App- and web based loyalty programs, where the customer is rewarded by visiting and buying in the mall. Rewards could be giftcars, coupons etc.
  • Click & Collect, where the customer from both a mall app and web can explore products from their favorit local stores, and click & collect them from home.
  • A digital campaign-feed in app and web, that’s constantly updated with the newest campaigns/news from the customer’s favorit stores

Concepts like these are win/win. Here the customer will login and give permission and access to their personal information in order to receive the benefits.

The mall will gain access to all 3 types of customer insights previously mentioned, and the mall will be able to start moving their focus from mass marketing to personalised communication.


Pro tip

Transparency and GDPR is important

When working with digital concepts like these, remember the honesty and the transparency towards the end user. Be completely transparent about the win/win agreement. This means that it should be obvious what data is collected, why it is collected and how it is used. The customers will respect you for it, and you will experience larger engagement from your customers in these types of concepts.

 It goes without saying that a shopping mall will not be able to create concepts that captures all mall customers, but the point is that the more focus it gets, the larger the customer base will be, and the more customer insights will be available.

Another important area to focus on when working with these types of shopping mall concepts is the tenant engagement. Without support from the tenants it will be hard to have loyalty programs that offers coupons, and it will be hard to offer Click & Collect without access to the tenants’ product and campaign content to present in app and on web.

Further readings:

How to solve the tenant engagement issue in shopping malls

The final steps
– how to use the insights?

After successfully deploying the digital mall concepts and hereby gaining access to the customer insights needed to provide

personalised communication, it is important to have a platform that supports the digital communication across the digital channels.

The shopping mall marketing team are often dealing with a very limited amount of resources, which means that the platform needs to support automated processes. The following 3 areas are important:

1. Access to content

Easy access to product and campaign material is essential as you will need a whole lot of it when changing from the mass marketing approach to the personalised approach.

Instead of having one large segment (mass marketing) and a generic message to everyone, you will now have a lot of small segments, where every segment will have different messages.

Customers interested in female fashion should be provided with content from female fashion stores, and customers interested in gaming and technology should be presented with content from those stores.

Because of this it is important that the platform supports easy upload of products and campaigns from the local tenants. Furthermore, it is important that the platform integrates with the national retailers’ marketing head quarters, so that the national content is automatically accessible in the malls marketing.

2. Integration to existing digital communication channels

When having access to the content needed, the platform must integrate with all the digital channels. This means that the content should be available to use on both app, web, social media, digital signage, newsletters etc.

3. Build segments and automation

Last but not least, the platform must support setting up segments based on the customer insights collected. It depends on the permission given weather segments can be used across channels, but nevertheless it should be possible to set up the segments for the different channels.a

After setting up the segments it will be a large benefit if it also supports automation, so the process of getting the content pushed to the segments is an automated process, which means the mall marketing does not have to do it manually every day.

How a mall got 94.258 visits from their loyalty app in 12 months

Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Written by Nikolaj Dahlgaard

Co-founder of Emplate. Business Development Engineer who likes to travel and see new places.