Shopping Centre Christmas marketing trends

Sensory Santa at Westfield centres

With Christmas sales to exceed $50 billion this year in Australia, marketers across the country have been very focussed on how their centres can get a slice of the big pie of sales available at Christmas time. The success of Christmas prepares both retailers and shopping centres for the months following where traditional sales are much lower, especially February which is the lowest sales month of the year. This year, Shopping Centre News inboxes have been full of the innovative ways marketers are trying to get consumer attention during the Christmas season across our industry. The focus on the consumer is strong and importantly connecting them on a more emotion level is high on the agenda.  SCN’s top five key trends are as follows:

1. Emotional Connection
Christmas for most people is a highly emotive time, its about coming together, giving and celebrations both for the year just gone…and the year ahead. The creative across the industry is of people enjoying Christmas with loved ones, joyous faces and moments that are shared. As marketers have studied for years, the psychology of marketing being an influencer to create an action is the key to any successful marketing or advertising campaign.

Stockland’s emotive content-led campaign, titled ‘Give a Little Christmas’, celebrates the spontaneous, unplanned and unexpected moments that make Christmas special and can bring a community closer. 

Ben Allen, General Manager Marketing at Stockland, said: “At Stockland, we believe Christmas is a special time for friends and families, but also for whole communities to come together. The insight that drove this year’s campaign was that while there is often a lot of preparation that goes into making a wonderful Christmas day, some of the little magic moments can come from unexpected gifts or thoughtful actions from the people around us. 

To spread joy even further, Stockland has partnered with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to improve the lives of those living in rural, regional and remote Australia. In the spirit of the season, the Stockland CARE Foundation has committed $50,000 to the charitable organisation as part of the company’s annual Christmas eCard campaign for the holiday season. 

This is the third year that Stockland has taken a content-led approach at Christmas, building upon the success of last year’s award winning1 campaign ‘Share Some Unexpected Joy’ and the previous year’s award winning2 ‘Unwrap Christmas’ campaign. 

2. Personalisation
The key to making others feel special through gifting is letting them know thought went in to it. Personalisation has been a key trend for a few years and shows no signs of going away. The rise of social media has seen the need for individual content and there’s no better way of displaying this than having your initials or name plastered on your personal items.

Macarthur Square created a personalisation event
Hundreds of retailers are now joining in on the personalisation of product offerings. It’s now so much faster or often comes at no extra cost to the consumer. At Lendlease’s Macarthur Square shopping centre, visitors will be able to get any items purchased in centre personalised, completely free at a weekend long Ultimate Personalised Gift Shopping Event held in early December.
The offer was FREE monogramming, engraving, embroidery and much more on any item purchased in the centre. It offered customers to think outside the box and engrave a lipstick or eyeshadow palette, a book for a child learning to read or personalised toys.

3. Sensory Santa
A number of years ago Pet Santa photos were all the rage maximising on the fact that Australians simply love their animals. This year, in Australia, Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has revised its autism prevalence rates from 1 in 100 to an estimated 1 in 70 people in Australia on the autism spectrum. That is an estimated 40% increase or around 353,880 people.

For many children with autism visiting Santa in a busy shopping centre environment is impossible which is why many landlords have invested in having a special Sensory Santa session which has made Christmas so much easier for those families.

Sensory Santa at Westfield Centres

Across the Westfield shopping centre portfolio, Scentre Group have rolled out Sensory Santa sessions.

“We are pleased to once again offer sensory-friendly Santa sessions across most of our centres in both Australia and New Zealand. We know that for some children with sensory issues, the bright lights, music and general festivities around a visit to Santa can be too much. With our sensory-friendly Santa sessions, each child has a special one-on-one visit with Santa in a peaceful and comfortable environment, and also that little bit longer with Santa.

We have expanded our offering to include sensory-friendly Santa sessions, as we want all members of our community to enjoy and celebrate the festive season with us. These photo sessions run before stores are open, offer no background music or spotlight s, and are wheelchair friendly. Families agree that this initiative has made a real difference to how they are able to celebrate Christmas.” said Alison Pearson, Westfield Regional Manager, Centre Experience.

4. Make Christmas count
Let’s face it, shopping centres are at the heart of the commercial Christmas however there is an increasing amount of centres innovating to create content, PR and give back to customers in a way that is not straight retail sales.

Erina Fair’s ‘The Giving Room’ customers are able to give a gift that money cannot buy and be part of something special by recording  a video message for a loved one or share a Christmas story, that could be part of a special Christmas video. Hosted by local personality, Sarah King, The Giving Room give customers to opportunity to do something really special.

Erina Fair’s “Giving Room”

Stephen Ross, Centre Manager said “While you’re visiting Erina Fair, take a moment to share a fun Christmas story or record a message of appreciation to someone whohas made a difference in your life and make their Christmas extra special.

At Erina Fair we value our local community. We want to spread the Christmas spirit by providing an opportunity to give a gift of affirmation, appreciation, gratitude and love. These are the greatest gifts we can ever give, but often the most difficult.

We’re pleased to have Sarah King be part of this special project. She knows our community, and she’ll be able to help customers tap into their memories, stories and who or what makes Christmas special for them.”

5. Community
Taking the notion that shopping centres are the community hub for a lot of communities thousands of shopping centres across the country are making sure there is an element of giving back to those less fortunate in the community. Hundreds of charity groups have benefitted from partnering with shopping centres and if you added up the industry’s contribution we are sure it would be hundreds of thousands of dollars, food, gifts and volunteer hours.

Retail First across all their centres facilitates the largest food donation drive of its kind in Australia, in conjunction with Foodbank Queensland and All Purpose Transport with a target of 40 tonne of food donated to thousands of families across the state. According to Foodbank Queensland, each year 400,000 Queenslanders experience food insecurity – around half of them are children. That’s one in every ten people.

About the author

Belinda Daly

Belinda Daly is a veteran of shopping centre marketing with over 22 years’ experience in the retail and property sectors. Belinda has worked for a number of leading property companies including Lend Lease, Walker Corporation, Stockland and most recently led the marketing function for AMP Capital Shopping Centres.

Belinda has been an avid contributor of SCN for many years sharing her industry and marketing experience in the marketing section of the magazine.

Belinda joined Shopping Centre News in 2018 as Digital and Communications Manager. After a successful marketing career in the industry she is so passionate about, Belinda was excited to join SCN to ensure the magazine reaches as many audiences around the world as possible.

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