Urbanisation is currently the strongest megatrend in the world, and clearly visible in established city centres.

Urbanisation is clearly reflected in, for example, the values of consumers aged over thirty.

“People feel they are unique individuals and want to make their mark. This trend used to lead people away from city centres, to live in detached houses complete with gardens. The situation now is changing, as city centres are becoming increasingly diverse and grassroots democracy and resident-organised projects are becoming more common,” says philosopher and researcher Aleksi Neuvonen of Demos idea incubator.

An increasing number of people wants to leave the suburbs and return to the city centre where the services are diverse and good traffic connections are available.

“A clear shift in lifestyle is taking place. People live in a more crowded fashion than before, but spend more time outside with their families and friends,” says Sponda Citycenter’s Shopping Centre Manager Tiina Fågel.

Strategist Miikka Leinonen of marketing agency Zeeland has also identified a shift in values.

“In addition to material things, people also want immaterial things,” he says.

By immaterial, he means a need for and a sense of belonging in a group of people.

“The future of business and ecosystems lies where the immaterial meets the material,” Leinonen adds.

A junction of experiences and events

In recent years, shopping centres have become an increasingly significant component of people’s everyday lives. Shopping centre services are increasingly diverse. A good example of this is the Health Kiosk project included in Sitra’s Municipal Programme. The project served as a framework for introducing municipal health care stations in shopping centres. Similar projects have been implemented in, for example, the United States.

He believes that new services will become an increasingly significant pull factor for future shopping centres. Pop-up shops, showrooms, cultural services, events and TV broadcasts are increasingly common in shopping centre facilities. Consumers seek new experiences.

Live streaming, i.e. broadcasting real-time footage online, can be used to share experiences with customers who cannot make it to the actual site. Traditional printed ads are being replaced by digital advertising surfaces and interactive ads targeted at consumers’ mobile terminals.

Regular customer status in a pocket

Online shopping and digitisation have been considered as presenting a challenge to traditional shops. However, now it would seem that digitisation is introducing more opportunities than it is eliminating.

“Digitisation is one way to attract customers into the shop,” says Service Designer and Web Art Director Ville Lempiäinen of Lahtinen Mantere Saatchi & Saatchi.

Lempiäinen’s employer has implemented online campaigns for, for example, Toyota. The company launched an application based on test driving, allowing customers to share data accumulated during test drives through a campaign website. This increased the number of test drives, as well customer satisfaction, the number of customersa and the awareness of the benefits of test driving.

Sponda’s Citycenter shopping centre in the city centre of Helsinki has also been significantly updated within a few years. New services have been created to supplement traditional sites of trade. Fitness centre Citycenter Elixia, opened in February, and is a prime example of this.

“We want to offer our customers a refreshing, empowering experience complete with a touch of everyday luxury. Our goal is to be there for our customers in their everyday life and along their journey, 24 hours a day,” says Shopping Centre Manager Tiina Fågel.

Development with digitisation

According to Tiina Fågel, Sponda is considering producing its own mobile shopping centre application. By combining the qualities of traditional and online shops, we can serve customers even more effectively.

“A mobile application would allow us to create a completely new regular customer system. Our customers could use one application to order, for example, a morning coffee at their favourite café, book a table at a lunch restaurant or schedule a wellness appointment, and pick up foodstuffs or other products they had ordered at the end of their visit,” she says.

The application could help customers who travel by car to find parking space in the parking garage. It could also be used to accrue regular customer points if a customer shares favourite service content via social media.

The prospects of digitisation are also actively on the agenda regarding other Sponda shopping centres. Sponda is currently building Ratina shopping centre in Tampere. The centre is due to be opened in 2018.

“We intend to produce innovative services, which enliven the service experience of both shopping centre customers and our corporate customers. We utilise the most recent technologies and will therefore make detailed decisions on service development only within the next two years,” says Sponda’s Ratina shopping centre’s Shopping Centre Manager Visa Vainiola

Responsible comfort

Sponda is engaging in a special co-operation project with Aseman Lapset ry at Citycenter. The objective of the partnership is to accommodate young people as a specific customer group, and to prevent crime and disputes among young people.

“We want Citycenter to be a comfortable place for all our customers. Together with Aseman Lapset ry, we have introduced an operating model that allows us to inform young people about the shopping centre rules,” says Shopping Centre Manager Tiina Fågel.

If, for example, a minor is caught stealing or drawing on the walls, the centre will attempt to find a solution, in cooperation with the parents, where the young person compensates for his or her actions by performing work.

“The street reconciliation model is a quicker and softer method for solving conflict than reporting an offence. The process is intended to prevent the sort of cycle of crime and punishment a young person may easily end up in,” says Fågel.

So far, Citycenter has only had to use the street reconciliation method once. A young person who had spoiled the walls compensated for the mistake by cleaning up some of the outdoor areas of the shopping centre.

“Youngsters share their experiences. We hope others will hear about their experience through the grapevine. The shopping centre does not want to discriminate against young people, because they are our future customers,” says Fågel, who is also a volunteer with Aseman Lapset ry.

Trends shape shopping centres

The significance of a good location and easy traffic connections is highlighted.

Multiple-channel solutions bring more services within customers’ reach.

Memorable experiences and comfort throughout the day.