The Pulling Power of Festivals

Jenny Chan



There are over 550 malls in the country, Two-thirds of them are  concentrated in the Klang Valley, serving a population of 7 .5 million.

With such demographics, the shopping centre industry is very competitive as it glamours to satisfy the needs of a large shopper base. And it is not easy, .

Shoppers expect an  array of choices. They demand more personalised experiences from fashion to food, travel, and on-demand entertainment to match their lifestyles.

Hence, managing a mall calls for determining the best tenant mix in order to attract the right shoppers and continue Lo grow its footfall, which is the number of shoppers entering its premise.

In the midst of pulling the crowds, another focus is to increase the purchasing power amongst shoppers.

The challenge of getting the right shoppers and having to share them amongst many other malls has made competition in the  industry even more challenging.

Marketing campaigns have to be properly planned to attract crowds during festive periods, for instance.

As society becomes more sophisticated, shoppers seek more attention. Hence, many malls execute smart marketing campaigns that are geared to providing personalised experiences like never before.

There are three major festival seasons in the country and nine special days for other celebrations.

Major festivals encompass Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Christmas while the special days are Deepavali, Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, Good  Friday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Teachers Day, Mid-Autumn Day and Thanks Giving.

Tourism Malaysia and the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism have also promoted yearly sales periods such as 1 Malaysia Super Sale from March 1-31, Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival from  June 15 to Aug 31 and Malaysia Year End Sales from Nov 1 to Dec 31.

With so many days of celebrations, the country is truly  a shopping paradise for locals  and international visitors.

Christmas is celebrated largely in many Western countries but due to our multi-racial society, we celebrate it along with Chinese New  Year, Hari Raya and the New Year in a big way too.

In  a cosmopolitan  catchment area such as the Klang Valley, the  average number of shoppers at successful malls exceed a footfall of 30 million per year.

Statistics  for the joint  Christmas and Malaysia Year End Sales period and local and regional school holidays indicate that through marketing efforts, festive periods are one of the best platforms to draw in the crowds and increase footfall.

For the past three years, such periods have shown an increase in shoppers of about four to 12% In malls compared with the average footfall during normal times.

Marketing  campaigns during this golden period has to be outstanding and provide novelty.

The “wow” factor is key to a successful campaign such as last year when Sunway Pyramid adopted An Aquatic wonderland as  its  Christmas theme. Sleighs drawn  by sea horses made their rounds to the homes of all sea creatures delighting the  public.

Pavilion Kuala Lumpur also  had its “wow”  show when it put up the tallest Swarovski Christmas Tree, costing RM3 mil.

This year,  Mid Valley  Megamall’s Chinese New Year theme  was Fortune Breeds Fortune with the spirit of prosperity, while 1 Utama celebrated A Time to Flourish supported by an impressive rewards programme.

Malls with  good marketing  efforts have seen a significant increase in footfall of approximately Sgf1 or more iI1 the past three years.

Print, electronic  and social media play an important role during festive periods by  sending shoppers positive messages,

It may come as a surprise, but during the Chinese New Year period which usually falls in February, Klang Valley malls have  consistently marked their lowest footfalls for the year.

There are two  reasons for this – it being a shorter month, and the fact that Chinese  shoppers will spend a week or two in their hometowns for the community’s biggest celebration.

At the same time, other ethnic groups also take advantage of the long break to similarly leave for their hometowns or go on holiday.

Hence, shopping malls in the towns see an  increase of between 5% and 17% in footfall during the period.

It is clear that the Chinese New Year migration  affects  spending patterns and significantly impacts the footfall of shopping malls in the Klang Valley.

Mall managers  are constantly  on their toes to find new ways to offer target audiences an exclusive experience – one that caters to their shoppers’ growing appetites for customisation, and greater choice and excitement so that they can boost footfall and sales.

Technology reshaping the industry

Advances in data gathering,  analysis and wireless technology vastly improves how events are planned and managed, Indeed,  technology is  reshaping the shopping mall industry,

Social networks have been a boon to event marketing and  promotions. Fans build communities of like-minded friends and share their excitement with communities without boundaries.

These  trends drive significant growth in  the festivals and consumer  events space around the world, arid it is not going to slow anytime soon.

Savvy marketing campaigns capitalise on the trend for greater choice by spending time with fans on social media.

Marketers listen to what excites these fans,  chat  with  them and ask for ideas which help to  think creatively about event programming and brainstorming.

Mall managers are taking advantage  of industry trends to plan smarter and operate with  greater  speed  and flexibility.

Creating a platform in the mall where hobbyists can engage i11 their individual passions – car shows for automobile enthusiasts, animation for others, jew• ellery, for those who fancy them  and fashion shows for those who  love trendy outfits.

Taking  advantage of the festive season, mall managers are designing their marketing campaigns according to shoppers’ needs.

Once the focus of an event is determined,  and the target audience identified, a marketing campaign is designed.

It usually offers incentives, immediate rewards, and loyalty programmes to ensure repeat shoppers who are enticed with gifts for purchases. This increases

impulse buying.

A successful marketing campaign is extremely important because advertising alone is not capable of convincing target audiences.

Marketing campaigns must be complete. Ideally, they include some form of benefits for shoppers.

There  is 110 foolproof success formula for any mall marketing campaign. It is a fast moving industry with a very volatile market for retailers, mall  managers and stakeholders.

Keeping the mall “relevant” is one of the basic rules to observe at all times.

Jenny Chan is the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK) committee member for research.