Families with children have been highlighted as an important customer segment at the Ratina shopping centre right from the start. Making Ratina a place that children enjoy visiting ensures that the adults in the family are willing to drive there even from neighbouring towns.
Mini-Ratina is a play area that opened last summer at the Ratina shopping centre in Tampere. With more than 100 m2 of space, Mini-Ratina features colourful shops, hair salons and cafés that bring to mind a small town.
“Would you like some apple juice?” asks five-year-old Lilia Laitinen, peeking out of a miniature sweet shop.
She follows up with an offer of ketchup, milk with sprinkles and eye drops. Lilia is a local Tampere resident who has visited Mini-Ratina several times and made new friends there.
“This sweet shop is my favourite spot,” says the bright young lady tending the shop.
Lilia’s mum Maarit Makkonen says her visits to Ratina with her daughter have also included the toy shop, bookshop and the many shops selling children’s clothing, but she is particularly happy about Mini-Ratina.
Families needs are reflected in the architecture, the use of space and the activities available.
“It’s great that kids have access to a play area like this. I haven’t seen anything like it at other shopping centres, at least nothing as big as this. When we come to shop at Ratina, there’s something fun for my daughter to do as well. We have also used the drop-in childcare service here. They have several adults on hand to look after the children, so I feel at ease leaving her to play while I do some shopping,” Maarit says.
Riding the bus to Ratina from a neighbouring town
Ann-Mari Alasaukko-oja and one-year-old Mila have come to Ratina to buy a birthday present for one of Mila’s friends, but they’ve also found time to take a break for the little girl to play. Living in the neighbouring town of Ylöjärvi, they sometimes come to Ratina by bus and sometimes by car.
“We occasionally visit Ratina in the evenings with the whole family. In the daytime, I come here with Mila and our friends to have coffee and play at Mini-Ratina. We’ve also become familiar with the children’s clothing shops here. These days I spend more time shopping for children’s clothes than my own,” Ann-Mari says with a laugh.
Ann-Mari has also read about Ratina’s services on social media: “I saw a post on a Facebook page for families with children that mentioned the drop-in childcare service they now offer here. I’m sure it will come in handy when Mila is a little older,” she adds.
Turning child-friendliness from a slogan to practical action
At Ratina, children and families with children have been given the highest priority even at the level of the shopping centre’s strategy.
The aim of this decision is to improve the well-being of families with children and to introduce a more child-friendly approach, which is something that many in Finnish society have been calling for.
Of course, the commercial perspective is also part of the decision.
“Families with children are a commercially important target group because of their high consumption. They have a lot of needs ranging from food to clothing, toys and hobby equipment,” says Mervi Ahola, Shopping Centre Manager at Ratina.
"We want to introduce a more child-friendly approach, which is something that many in Finnish society have been calling for."
At Ratina, the idea of being a child-friendly shopping centre has been put into action in many different ways. The target group’s needs are reflected in the architecture, the use of space and the activities available.
Being community-oriented and ensuring that people enjoy themselves are important values for Ratina and its owner, Sponda. Accordingly, Ratina offers much more than just shopping. There are many lovely restaurants and cafés, a wide range of events and places for people to get together.
“We want to provide pleasant experiences for families with children in their daily lives. Our starting point is that families with children value convenience. Ratina is easy to access by any mode of transport and our spacious walkways are easy to get around. We’ve also taken pram access into consideration at our restaurants and cafés, which all welcome families with children,” Mervi explains.
Free drop-in childcare service benefits everyone
The free drop-in childcare service available at Mini-Ratina on Saturdays is a new concept in the Pirkanmaa region. Most Saturdays, some 50 children spend time in the drop-in childcare under the supervision of trained childminders. The service has been enthusiastically received by customers as well as Ratina’s retail tenants.
"Being a child-friendly shopping centre benefits all parties: the children, their parents and our retail tenants.”
“Studies show that average spending increases when customers are able to shop without having their children in tow. Our experience has shown that being a child-friendly shopping centre benefits all parties: the children, their parents and our retail tenants,” Mervi concludes.
Services for families with children in a nutshell:
- Mini-Ratina play area for children under 10 years of age: Mon–Fri 10:00–20:00, Sat 10:00–18:00, Sun 12:00–18:00.
- Free drop-in childcare in Mini-Ratina for children aged 3–10: Sat 10:00–17:00, a limit of one hour per visit applies.
- Two baby care rooms, one of which has a Moomin theme.
- Katti Ratina free-of-charge music playschool for children aged 0–5 on Tuesdays during the autumn season.
- Several shops aimed specifically at families with children.
- Child-friendly restaurants and cafés that are spacious enough for prams.
- Visitors can borrow a pushchair from the information desk.