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Casual visitors in retail environments – are they useful to brands?

By Sally Alington, managing director, Blackjack Promotions

Brands should not underestimate the value of the casual shopper but they need to target them in the right way if they are to meet with success.

The casual shopper – those who wander high streets and shopping malls casually window shopping – can be of huge value to brands, as they are more open to brand marketing than those shoppers who are shopping for a specific item.

With more time to browse and with a greater capacity to be open to brand marketing, the casual shopping can be incredibly receptive to a campaign.

One only has to think of airports: the relaxed ‘holiday mode’ coupled with natural high dwell time create easier inroads for brands to reach the consumer’s emotional side – and we all know emotions are powerful motivators to do something.  Likewise, shopping centres can create the perfect environment in which to capture the attention of the casual consumer.

Why? Because shopping centres (both out of town ones and the likes of London’s two giant Westfield centres) are micro environments filled with a pool of people whose aim, more often than not, is to enjoy their entire day’s shopping experience in that one place.

So how should brands capitalise on this? One obvious way is to create experiences that will captivate the casual shopper. As they have more time to engage with brands, the most successful experiences will be ones that allow the consumer to interact – to touch, to feel, to get involved and of course have some fun with! Think of the Mini Countryman campaign which challenged as many people as possible to squeeze into one Mini virtually.

Or the Green Giant campaign at Manchester’s Old Trafford Centre, which encouraged mums and kids during half term to ‘high five’ an augmented reality powered Green Giant. Both campaigns resulted in great levels of interaction and engagement along with return for the brand while offering something different to the normal shopping day experience.

Remember that casual shoppers are much more receptive to sampling and giveaway marketing too. An example of this is the thousand branded canvas bags that The Sunday Times Style magazine gave out to visitors at London Fashion Week venues.

It’s quite simple: retail brands that offer immersive, engaging experiences within their surrounding environment will at the end of the day find themselves a powerful audience in the casual shopper.