Innovative retail property marketing is about serving the customers, shopping centre director Henrik Stadigh writes in his blog.

What if you were a shopkeeper in a busy location and wanted to benefit from the high numbers of visitors and commit shoppers to be loyal customers? What if you knew right away when a regular customer comes into the shop, deserving special treatment? And what would the customer feel like if you could immediately recommend exactly the kind of products they like?

Last autumn, Sponda launched a project that could mark the beginning of the transformation of brick-and-mortar shops. Together with the advertising agency TBWA, we launched the VIP loyal customer key that is unique in the world.

A key fob includes an RFID chip that makes the key work in the same way as cookies in an online shop. Information on the customer’s previous shopping behaviour can be read immediately from the loyal customer key. A shop taking part in the loyal customer programme has it displayed on-screen immediately when the customer steps into the shop.

10,000 key fobs were distributed to customers at the Citycenter shopping centre, and over one thousand of them are in active use. Due to high demand, more keys have now been made and will be distributed to customers.

The inauguration of the revamped Citycenter was arranged and VIP keys distributed for the first time in late summer 2014.

At Citycenter, the VIP key has opened up new opportunities for marketing. Loyal customer discounts targeting the holders of VIP keys can be produced on public screens in the shopping centre. Shopkeepers are particularly happy that this has increased their visibility and brought additional traffic to all of the floors of the shopping centre. After the launch of the VIP key, customer flow between different floors has increased by more than 20%.

We are going to continue to utilise the VIP key at Citycenter while developing the opportunities for shopping centre marketing further. RFID-based marketing is also easy to scale. With this, I mean that from the point of view of the shopping centre, almost the same investment benefits ten as well as fifty shops.

Our marketing innovation was recently awarded the silver medal in the Vuoden Huiput – The Best of Finnish Advertising and Design competition arranged by Grafia − Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland. The VIP key won the prize in the Innovative media and environment category. The Physical Cookie was described as an innovation that makes marketing a service and directly benefits the customer.

I am happy to say that the VIP key was also included in the shortlist of the New York Festivals competition. This competition can be said to be the world’s most demanding and diverse competition in the advertising industry. There are entries and jury members from over 70 countries.

The experience we have gained from Citycenter could also be utilised in our other retail centres. We recently announced that we will develop the largest shopping centre in the Tampere economic area in Ratina, due for inauguration in spring 2018.

Henrik Stadigh is Director, Shopping Centres at Sponda.

Text: Henrik Stadigh



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