The people of Tampere have been involved in the planning and design of their new shopping centre right from the start. A member of Ratina’s resident panel and one of the faces of Ratina’s advertising talk to us about their involvement.
It all began with Sponda, the property developer behind Ratina, wanting to create a shopping centre that genuinely responds to the needs of its users.
“We wanted to survey the wishes of those people this concerns, so we began to arrange open events where local residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns and ideas. Based on these meetings, we then set up the Ratina resident panel. The panel has about 30 members. They are active Tampere residents of different ages,” says Ratina’s Shopping Centre Manager Mervi Ahola.
“I appreciate the fact that they listened to the local residents right from the construction phase. They gave a voice to the consumers and were interested in our opinions.”
The Ratina resident panel has met once every two months or so.
“Among other things, the panel has weighed in on what types of shops, services and activities there should be in Ratina. We have also covered topics related to environmental issues, opening hours and accessibility. These are all themes on which the local residents are the best experts we can find,” Ahola explains.
Exercising real influence through the resident panel
In the festive atmosphere of Ratina’s grand opening, we join two strong women who were involved in the Ratina project to learn more about their experiences. Sari Virtanen is a member of Ratina’s resident panel and lives right next door on the shore of Lake Pyhäjärvi. Anni Grönberg went to school in Tampere and is one of the faces of Ratina’s advertising.
“I appreciate the fact that they listened to the local residents right from the construction phase. They gave a voice to the consumers and were interested in our opinions,” Virtanen says.
“It’s been interesting to see the wide range of issues that need to be taken into consideration in designing a shopping centre.”
Virtanen signed up for Ratina’s resident panel as soon as it was established. She has found it interesting to see the wide range of issues that need to be taken into consideration in designing a shopping centre.
“For example, we have talked about environmental issues, starting from small details like where bicycles should be parked. We have also discussed accessibility to ensure that everyone can get around the shopping centre easily. It looks like this has been accomplished very well,” Virtanen says in reference to the grand opening, where people get around comfortably in spite of the large crowds.
The resident panel has had different focus areas and one of the topics on Virtanen’s mind has been young people.
“Shopping centres are for people of all ages, but every now and then there is debate about the way young people hang out in public places. At Ratina, we have taken a proactive and constructive approach to this issue. Among other things, we have discussed ways to build positive solutions related to how young people spend their time and what they need,” Virtanen explains.
From a performing arts school to being the face of Ratina’s advertising
Ratina has also taken a fresh approach to marketing: The faces of Ratina are real locals and actual customers of the shopping centre.
As one of the faces of Ratina, Anni Grönberg has been involved in building the Ratina brand and feeling since last February. Her role has involved two photo sessions as well as representing the brand at events such as the shopping centre’s grand opening. While Grönberg is new to the world of modelling, she has some experience of photo and video shoots due to having studied at an upper secondary school focused on the performing arts.
The collective approach has also been applied in marketing. The faces of Ratina are real residents of Tampere.
“I’ve been super excited about this opportunity. Ratina is such a big step forward for Tampere. This shopping centre is so approachable and you can find everything you need in one place, including large supermarkets. It’s also nice to have Monk and Zara stores here in Tampere so I don’t have to go to Helsinki for my clothes shopping anymore,” Grönberg says.
In addition to Ratina’s large exterior video display, Grönberg can be seen on billboards and buses around Tampere. Her face is also featured on the shopping centre’s advertising materials, such as invitation cards and brochures.
The thrill of seeing the finished article
The faces of Ratina took part in a group photo shoot at the shopping centre in February, when it was still unfinished. Grönberg says it is incredible to now see the finished article.
“It’s so gorgeous and clear. I think Ratina will become an important hub for Tampere and an attractive destination for visitors.”
"Ratina is now open for business, but the work of the resident panel will go on. A shopping centre is never finished.”
Virtanen is equally impressed by the new Ratina. As someone who has lived abroad and still travels a lot, she is familiar with the shopping centres in places like London, New York and Dubai. She feels that Ratina has an international atmosphere in terms of its energy, ideas and interior design.
“This café, for example, is so cosy and bright. You feel like you’re outside. I’m also pleased with the diverse range of shops and restaurants here.”
Ratina is now open for business, but the work of the resident panel will go on.
“A shopping centre is never finished,” concludes Shopping Centre Manager Ahola.