Aleksandra Mićović, PR Manager of Stadion Shopping Center in Belgrade, shares with us their marketing strategies that tackle the pandemic challenges.
How was Stadion shopping center tackling the challenges of the pandemic and what strategies did you use to support the tenants?
The pandemic brought about great challenges and changes in the way we do business. When it started we were all surprised by the situation, so we had to follow closely its developments and make decisions on a month-to-month basis.
We have spent a large number of days in lockdown since the beginning of 2020, and in that period we focused on digital marketing. Through our online platforms, we supported the online shops of our tenants, as we knew they needed our help to attract customers and make sales. Therefore, during this period, we mostly focused on product placements through our social networks in order to bring the offer of our tenants closer to consumers that followed us online.
As Stadion is the first shopping center that opened in the old part of Belgrade, our team strives to remain a good neighbor! We continue to offer a good selection of brands, affordable prices, and efficient shopping solutions. We also assure our visitors every day that our mall is a safe place to shop and we try to make sure that everyone respects the measures inside the center.
We have proven ourselves in the past year and a half because even in these difficult times we have continued to improve our center by investing in expansions and renovations. We have renovated our food court area and expanded to a third level to accommodate new brands!
Tell us more about your new store openings.
This year, we opened the third level and we are more than satisfied that our center has become richer with two new tenants – Tehnomania and Aksa.
Negotiations with LPP Group have been completed, and we expect the opening of their Sinsay store on our second floor by the end of the year.
What retail categories are now performing the best in your mall?
Supermarkets, pharmaceuticals, and drogerie stores are definitely in the first place. This is understandable as they offer essential products for our daily lives.
They are followed by textile retailers, which are operating surprisingly well, and based on our conversations with our tenants they are satisfied with their sales. We also can not leave out children’s stores, which are operating at an enviable level in our center.
In your opinion, how has the pandemic affected the retail market, consumer behavior, and shopping centers?
Fear is the first word I would have to use. The spread of panic and misinformation by the media led to people withdrawing and looking for alternative ways for shopping. So as a result visitor numbers in all malls drastically dropped in the first months of 2020.
As time went on and as we all became aware that this was the “new normal”, shopping centers gained life again and consumers slowly returned to their usual daily routines.
Our shopping center has a great advantage because we have been family-oriented from the start. Our tenant mix offers an efficient shopping experience, as we have everything a family, a woman, a man needs under one roof.
Which marketing strategies have brought you the most success? Give us an example.
Since the pandemic has brought us a huge expansion of digital platforms, our main focus is now on promoting our mall and tenants through Facebook, Instagram, Google advertising, and other online portals.
We also cooperate with influencers and bloggers, which turns out to be a complete success.
Nowadays, people get most of their information via their mobiles phones and apps, so we try to present our offer in a different and more creative way.
On a weekly basis, we inform our followers on social networks about promotions, news, and discounts. Digital marketing is currently the number one tool for everyone and I believe it will only continue to grow. But I cannot ignore OOH advertising as it has also been very effective in reaching a large audience, especially when the campaign was effective.
One of the successful marketing activities we have recently had was definitely the campaign informing people that we have become a pet-friendly center and that from now on our visitors can shop with their pets. Through digital media platforms, the campaign had a huge reach and positive comments, which attracted a completely new group of consumers.
What is next for your shopping center?
To remain one of the three most visited centers in Belgrade, and to continue to offer a high-quality service to our visitors. We also aim to improve the center in accordance with world trends and to become richer with new global and domestic brands.
How do you see the future of retail?
Due to the pandemic, consumer behavior and habits have changed. Although online sales have taken off, I still think that people want “tangible” communication and that going shopping is a kind of therapy.
At the moment, there is no great fear around shopping malls, which is proven by our high visitor numbers and continuous demand from new retailers for empty store units.
Consumers, no matter how accustomed they become to online shopping, will still like the feeling of exploring, choosing, and enjoying shopping at physical stores and malls.