Shopping as an experience

Many of us have friends and family we know who talk about their shopping trips to Sydney, Melbourne or indeed overseas. It’s no longer enough for many teenagers to have the right label for their prom dress but they also have to be able to say they bought it on a shopping trip somewhere more exotic than their home town.

There are several forces driving this phenomenon.

Firstly society is rapidly polarising into the haves and have nots as wealth shifts and is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands.

Secondly, this polarisation of wealth brings a clear delineation in consumer’s minds between needs and wants – needs being much more about what I have to have to survive, keep my household and family going and continue to be able work and function and wants being much more about reward and treat.

And thirdly, as wants shopping extends and matures, consumer’s look for more engaging, immersive shopping experiences taking their special shopping visit way beyond the everyday.

Not many retailers clearly comprehend the distinction which is killing the middle ground in favour of strong gains at the profit through volume /”value” (or low price) end and the higher price specialty branded end.

Retailers seem to have a lemming like “one size fits all” approach to pricing strategies. Many stock the same merchandise and offer similar discounts, at the same time to the same people. Yet the big learning today is understanding how to select your target consumer and build a profitable model around what drives their shopping behavior.

The quest for shopping experience drives a need to travel, to immerse in the new, the different, the wow.

This extends to even the search for sale or clearance merchandise.

Some consumer’s swear by France’s bi-annual government regulated clearance sales where twice a year – January and July – retailers have their only opportunity to offload overhanging stock for up to 70% off. Or the annual Sale-abration in Singapore every July where retailers turn their annual clearance sales into a government supported tourism boom.

But the big travel experience is the handful of exceptional luxury brand clearance outlet malls opeing up around the world. Malls like Woodbury Common in New York, Serravalle Scrivia between Milan and Genoa and Fashion District Clearance Mall South of Rome. The specialty malls are not only stocked with all the fashion brands at incredible prices, but they make the act of shopping a wonderful travel experience. Woodbury Common hosts over 220 luxury brand names amongst 160 acres of landscaped gardens and forest. The mall is more like a New England township than a shopping centre and the one hour trip from Manhattan is rewarded with a day of strolling a picking up bargains in a wonderful environment.

Mainly shopped by domestic and international tourists, very few leave the precinct without at least two full shopping bags.

In Australia DFO and Harbour Town and building their concepts around tenancy mix and contracted minimum discounts from retailers but they lack the theatre and experience of many of the international clearance malls.

For the ultimate shopping travel experience, you need to think of the accommodation, food and promenading to shop in the brands you love. Here New York, Paris, Milan and London are the world’s favourite destinations for full price, authentic shopping immersion.