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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

VIENNA-Consumer retail behavior is changing in the current economic crisis and shopping centers must adapt to a new world of “high quality, low price, unique or very special” as well as maintaining marketing budgets with innovative campaigns, a conference heard recently.

Jesper Bo Jensen, of Netherlands-based Future Research, urged attendees at the sixth International Council of Shopping Centers’ Marketing Conference in Vienna last month to look at the future, not roll out campaigns that have worked in the past. “Nothing is the same, and it won’t be again,” he said. “The new world is high quality, low price, unique or very special.” The middle platform is eroding, and, “It’s Lidl versus Gucci… Discount is now mainstream; think Ikea and H&M.”

Bo Jensen predicted that consumer behavior will change this autumn as the time lag between consumer patterns and changing economic trends is about one year. Analysis of shoppers and the way they shop is essential. Women enjoy shopping with friends or alone – and men much prefer to go with their wives. “The most successful shopping center is one that separates husband and wife without him noticing,” he added.

Conference chairperson Kate Mason, a UK-based consultant, said: “It’s the shopping centers with the creativity, courage and commitment to roll out innovative new campaigns which are showing the industry how it should be done. By the time the rest of the industry has caught up with them, they are already planning their next campaign.” Mason said shopping center developers and managers seeking to save money in the worldwide economic downturn should think hard before slashing marketing budgets. There remains clear evidence that good marketing can boost footfall and sales. One of the Republic of Ireland’s most successful retail malls, Dundrum, presented its award-winning marketing campaigns that have bucked all retail trends by boosting footfall amid Ireland’s most destructive recession for decades.

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