John B. Foreman

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Regional Mall Preview

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PREVIEW: Regional Malls

The following is a selection from Page 10 of this 35 Page e-book which also contains selected drawings.

The Initial Design Concept; should begin with a selection of easily recognizable visual presentations of a retail environment complete with avatar figures that portray the place as a home for the needs and wants of the specific audience Psychographics which then becomes the study document for critique by an elite audience consisting of the Owner, the Retail Planning Consultant and the design team. Firstly there are two specific definitions that should be on the Designers radar (1) the difference between the specific Category shopper’s needs and wants and (2) how to create an environment that satisfies that and what the critique must provide for a way forward

So what are the shopper’s needs and wants? Needs are generally recognized as daily family staple provisions and wants satisfy the desires and aspirations of the shopper often in the guise of Branded or emotional items. However, I have seen stronger emotions to purchase from a shopper viewing live retail theatre; I designed an FMCG outlet that specialised in a range of take-home-pies with the pie maker working behind a clear glass screen in front of the oven which carried the illuminated message “baking now” they sold out every day, with the Brand being reinforcement and better remembered.

But firstly it is imperative that the whole psychographic study is read and understood for this purpose because it will identify those needs and wants in both the category and in the type of environment in which they live. It is not only the residential or transient tourist shopper that defines the parameters of the Concept Design, it is extended to all the audience on this stage, including for example the on-site retailers and their staff, the managers and employees in local commercial and industrial developments that are within the catchment area, the business owners themselves, the service people who service such employees and residents, such as lawyers, accountants, hospitals and schools all of whom are customers within a Regional Mall structure, the list is endless and in some unique cases the outer layers can be dominant over the residential population.

Designers should not conceive a “look” until they understand the people they are designing the “look” for. I have been asked to provide a Mall that portrays a classic Georgian or contemporary Polynesian image but my answer is always the same, the “look” is what the people of the Psychographic study can assimilate with and aspire to which in turn encourages them to visit and return again and again, is there any other “look”? Architectural forms only work if they satisfy the function, and I have seen many simple shopping centres out-perform their more glamorous cousins, one wonders at the waste of investment funds. Form comes from function which in our terms means that a retail environment is what it is, a place in which to retail.

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© 2008 John B Foreman, Auckland, New Zealand