Aleksandra Kožul, Communications Director, External, Internal and Digital, at Novaston

Shoppers Want To Stop & Shop

Novaston, as an independent real estate platform, is changing the known concept of retail parks to suit the needs of the domestic market – shoppers in Serbia actually want a place where they can spend quality time with quality and affordable shopping

Aleksandra Kožul Novaston

Consumer expectations are essentially the same – they want good brands, quality and affordable prices, additional value in the form of discounts, sales and vouchers, but also to have fun while shopping, to learn more, meet interesting people and find out something new. We can give them all of that ~ says Novaston’s Aleksandra Kožul.

In which way does the marketing approach used by retail parks in Serbia differ from the one used abroad?

Novaston logo– When we compare retail operations abroad to those in our country, the park’s main difference is in the status that it has, which corresponds to how much they invest in marketing in other countries and that retail parks are organised in such a way that they are used solely for shopping. They have one supermarket and several shops with famous brands, prices are more affordable and the comfort level is higher in terms of parking and open spaces. Shoppers have only one goal, which is to shop quickly, practically and at affordable prices, and this is known abroad as “stop and shop”. Accordingly, investments in marketing are very low or almost non-existent. In the case that they do use marketing services, this usually boils down to several major campaigns, like a Christmas campaign or campaigns to promote the new shopping season.

However, in our country the “stop and shop” concept is still not developed in the right way, because shoppers here also want to have additional entertainment, frequent sales and to enjoy the performances of celebrities.

In order to achieve this, and in addition to standard campaigns, we have also introduced additional activities like celebrating the birthdays of retail parks and various holidays, the summer season and periodical shopping days and weekends. Retail parks in Serbia today differ from shopping malls only in terms of the size of open spaces, because they have a roof. In many cities, retail parks are the only serious shopping centres and places where people gather.

Novaston was founded as an independent real estate platform, with Novaston Marketing Consultancy being one of its subsidiaries

How different is the approach that retail parks have to communication compared to the way certain brands within them communicate, and what are their target groups?

– In the case of retail parks, communication must be such that it satisfies three sides – leases, consumers and the retail park as a brand. The focus is on all the brands that are sold in a retail park and their benefits, as well as on the interests, needs and wishes of shoppers, but in such a way that it actually shows the retail park as a unique brand. The point Is to create and maintain the reputation of a retail park as a place for unique shopping and good entertainment.

Is there a universal solution or a universal message that can be applied in all situations and markets?

– Each retail park is a channel that communicates for itself, and the way of communicating depends on the location, micro and macro markets, target groups, and type of park. The situation is not the same if a retail park is located in a larger city where there is strong competition and thus a stronger brand campaign is needed, or if it is in a smaller town but outside the centre, so you have to do things that will attract residents and change their habits of only shopping close to home. This kind of operating, approaching each client and every project carefully and with unique analysis and a custom-made proposal, is what makes our company special.

Aleksandra Kožul Novaston

How much have consumer expectations changed since the time of the first retail parks, given that today there are quite a few of them around?

– Consumer expectations are essentially the same – they want good brands, quality and affordable prices, additional value in the form of discounts, sales and vouchers, as well as to have fun while shopping, to learn more, meet interesting people and find out something new. They do not distinguish between shopping centres and retail parks, as they view them both as places where they shop and have fun.

If one of these segments is not sufficiently developed, the number of shoppers can be compromised. It is therefore important that both aspects – shopping and entertainment – are well-balanced and communicated to the public in the right way.

Consumers want places where they can shop and have fun. If one of these segments is missing, the number of shoppers can be compromised

What future trends can we expect?

– Personalisation is a trend that has been dominant for quite some time now. New technologies today allow the direct involvement of the customer in the production process. Many brands go a step further by enabling their consumers to fully create the product in the way they want. On the other hand, the trend of growing investments in social media, which have long been taking the lead in digital marketing, will continue, and they are a key part of today’s marketing strategies.

Some brands have over half a million followers on Facebook in Serbia alone today. Blogging plays an increasingly important role, as consumers like to hear first-hand recommendations. For this reason, more and more seriously minded companies are using blogs on their websites to attract visitors and turn them into customers. Everything today is about content marketing, and blogging is the most popular example of that.

Influencers are increasingly engaged by brands and companies to deliver key messages. Can they bring new consumers?

– Audiences increasingly trust content from influencers more than traditional advertisers. According to research from 2018, as many as 94% of experts using this type of marketing consider it extremely useful, while 39% plan to increase investment in this form of communication in the period ahead. So, companies should cooperate with influencers, but only with carefully selected, uncompromised ones.

It has also been revealed that influencer marketing achieves 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of communication. However, we must keep in mind that their role changes over time and they face new challenges, like any other channel of communication.