European shopping malls: about the trend "food is a new fashion"

Today food has nothing to do with the need to replenish energy supplies in the body. We no longer need to escape from mammoths or from cold. Today food means something else. For example, a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition, or even involvement to these trends. Or business talks: try to compare the extent to which it is easier to negotiate at a dinner table. Food is a way to have a great time with your beloved ones, to support and to discuss family affairs. Food also means a social and cultural exchange, a demonstration of interest and respect to other nations and their traditions through gastronomic markers. In short, today food means whatever you like, but not just a victory over hunger.
The fact that there are a lot of different kinds of food in our lives, and in particular, in shopping malls, is explained by several reasons, the main of which is the urgent need to socialize commercial projects. The global socialization of real estate is on the trend today. Over recent years European shopping malls try to increase the share of catering facilities in the overall rental area. Many experts point out that this trend will continue to be actual and the thesis from ECE development company announced at the Annual Conference of the International Council of Shopping Malls that "food is a new fashion" has an excellent evidence base. 
So why it is important for a shopping mall to have a lot of cafes and restaurants and what benefits a mall can get from such cooperation? 
A quality restaurant yard or individual cafes and restaurants with a large choice of cuisines and gastronomic trends allow a shopping mall to attract a solvent traffic of office workers to a mall. Such traffic is relatively stable in the expected time which allows a mall to adjust the scheduling of each food operator. "Hitting" the target audience by choosing the right food-court and the original mix is also a great opportunity to differentiate from competitors.
For joint marketing promotions and campaigns food operators are ideal partners, because they give the most important component of activity - emotion, mood and new experience. Whether it's a traditional tasting or a chef's show – such events always attract guests of a mall.

And if ingredients of a cuisine or appearance of its dishes are unfamiliar to a guest and cause his/her curiosity - the guest will definitely fall for this gastronomic bait. In this case the food passes into the category of "entertainment" which can perfectly complement any scenario of visiting a shopping mall. And the most important, food & mood prolong the time of stay in a mall.

Food operators are very dynamic and actively use all modern retail technologies. Thus, cafes and restaurants become digital to the same degree as their colleagues from the fashion industry. While fashion-operators use such new technologies as virtual fitting rooms, selection of “look” or online-consultations of a stylist, food operators use online ordering and table reservation services, interactive tables where one can play, etc.

All these "schticks" make the food industry even more attractive for a guest, increasing the effect of a pleasant stay. By using these techniques operators give guests pleasant emotions that are important to a shopping mall, prolonging period spent in a shopping mall.
From the point of view of the consumption psychology, a guest satisfied with his gastronomic journey will more likely spend money. When basic needs are satisfied and a gastro shopping has taken place, a person can relax and pay attention to show-windows, make a stop near the thing he/she likes or even try it on. Isn’t it the main task of all shopping malls? The fact of visiting of a shopping mall means that a guest is already "warm" and can be can be "rolled" for a great shopping. But he/she could have ordered food through the delivery service.
Service in the work of food operators is as important as in other retail categories. Constant work with tenants and control of quality of their work at all stages allows a shopping mall to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. And this means that guests will come back to the mall again and again. In the gastronomy of the mass market service 5* becomes “must have”, as well in premium-segment restaurants. Smiling staff can no longer keep the guest and make him come back.
So, the concept of “service design” - a set of measures worked out taking into account the specifics of the operator's work becomes extremely important. To win the attention of the audience a food operator from the very beginning shall use service design; otherwise later he will have to compete with more customer-focused colleagues who were the first to make a stake at service.

Another important aspect of emotional consumption in a mall which should be mentioned is the interior design. The developer has a lot of requirements to operators related to quality and style of the interior. And these requirements will grow, because the consumption becomes more and more difficult from the point of view of perception of the target audience. And as food becomes an art - details become more important.

A guest of a mall can immediately fall in love with the mall only due to original, understandable, rememberable design. And at this stage the marketing and the analysis of consumers’ typology are especially important: which type of a guest should be attracted with the design, why and how the guest's expectations are changed under the influence of external factors and trends, how the appearance of the operator will change.

Amazingly simple and at the same time emotional presentation of ECE development company dedicated to food as a new experience for guests of a shopping mall prompted a new thesis which may be of interest to our colleagues developers  in Ukraine.
Over the last years the theme "the new food experience" was thoroughly developed by ECE team and now this niche is occupied by this developer. This is a great opportunity which the strong developer uses to the fullest extent. The conceptual and professional approach can be seen in small details: ECE speaker was dressed in a masterchef's jacket. It was funny, but effective. And he didn’t look like others. For me it was a marker distinguishing this developer from the others from the point of view of positioning and work with the reputation of the company's brand. But this is another topic.
Based on annual conference  ICSC European Conference: Space, Place and the Future of Retail

Nataliia Dmytrenko 
Chief Marketing Officer Arricano Real Estate Plc
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