Opening of malls reopens opportunities for OOH owners ahead of festivals

OOH industry leaders share how they plan to bring back brands to malls

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 1:11 PM  | 7 min read
Reopening of Malls in Mumbai

After being completely shut for nearly five months, malls in Mumbai are warming up to re-open today, August 5. The Mission Begin Again is a huge opportunity for OOH companies to get their mall inventory back. The reopening under Unlock 3.0 comes at a time when a lot of festive spending will take place and mall outdoor ads will garner lot of call-to-action. Mall advertising is a great way to be close to the point of purchase and has a mass-market approach. However, in the initial stage after reopening, mall advertising will focus more on welcoming customers back while they follow the new safety guidelines.

e4m spoke to OOH industry leaders on their plans for the reopening of malls and asked them which brands will be first to invest.

According to Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Outdoor, reopening of malls will be a welcome change towards normalcy. “Malls have been a very important part of our lives in the pre-COVID phase. They played an important role in the media mix for all formats; static, experiential, DOOH. But in other cities where malls have reopened, it has not been a cakewalk under given circumstances as footfall has hovered around 30 per cent compared to the pre-COVID days. People are a whole lot cautious in going to enclosed spaces other than offices. It’s not a hangout zone now as was in its previous avatar. In Mumbai too, the same trend is likely to be seen in the initial days. Given the fact that festive season is approaching, malls will see a quick comeback. Almost all brands belonging to FMCG, mobile phone, garment, clothing, accessory, and the financial sectors will respond earlier than the rest. We have been talking about DOOH playing an important role, and most of that inventory in malls and restaurants will see an upswing.”

Deepak Kumar, Director, Ambient, C Lab, ROOH, and Brandscope, feels Unlock 3.0 will reopen opportunities that were lost in the last four months.

“Mall reopening is great news and a positive step towards the opening of our economy. Mall owners will ensure total safety protocol, while we as consumers need to abide by these guidelines responsibly. Unlock 3.0 will reopen opportunities that were lost in the last 4 months. Not sure if this will help recover the opportunities lost by the media owners, but it will help tide over future losses. We will look forward to the footfall traction that would help gauge the ROI. Our take is that it will be off to a slow start and eventually gather momentum, just like we have been observing in different cities and countries.”

Speaking about brands that will invest in the inventory first, Kumar expects BFSI clients with their cashback/easy EMI offers to get activated first. And of course, brands that deal with personal hygiene and sanitization would top the chart, he says.

“Most of the brands would like to get back to advertising and in all probability will be linked to sale/offer promotions,” Kumar adds.

Ketan B Lakhani, Director, Orienta Cine Advertising, talking about what malls are doing to gear up for this new development, said, "With the re-opening of the malls, the old normal will be back with the new normal. This new normal is the new way of experiencing the old normal things. Malls in Mumbai have adopted 360-degree safety measures right from the entry point to main atrium, parking, and exits. Sanitizing, social distancing, and temperature check are the new ways of welcoming mall visitors. I am pretty sure, when all safety mechanisms are in place, mall visitors would enjoy their shopping experience with less of safety doubts and more confidence."

Sharing what agencies are doing to bring back brands to malls, Lakhani shared, "Brands should take this opportunity of welcoming their consumers back with fresh energy through mall campaigns. We have been sharing our quality research insights with our clients to get their confidence back and have been inspiring them to interact with their targeted groups through mall ad campaigns, when there is already less clutter of competition and expanded visibility. Also, we have introduced exclusive discount packages."

M.V. Sairam, COO, Laqshya Assets shared, "The Maharashtra Government’s decision to re-open malls from the 5th of August is a welcomed move and would bring great respite to the retail business and other blue-collared jobs associated with malls. It is also a welcomed move for the advertising industry. Mall advertising helps brands stand out at the audience’s point of purchase and aids their decision-making process. A lot of DOOH mediums are also used in malls to create greater impact. After being locked up for 4 months, customers are expected to visit malls sooner or later. This will encourage brands, especially those having a presence in the malls, to advertise and help steer the purchase decision of customers." 
Talking about the brands that will invest in this mall inventory Sairam said, "We believe all brands having their retail outlets in the malls will want to advertise once the malls open up, including luxury brands, clothing brands, electronic brands, especially the ones with new launches, accessory brands, etc."

According to Srikrishna Vadrevu, COO, Retail, Moving Walls, malls are taking aggressive measures to comply with COVID-19 SOPs and to communicate that their premises are safe for visitors. “The steps taken in this direction are being shared over both OOH and mobile channels to increase footfall. Malls are seeking capable technology partners who can give a complete solution to them in terms of ensuring compliance via monitoring, detecting non-compliance, and enhancing both internal and external communications.”

Talking about which brands would avail this inventory first, Vadrevu said, “International groups such as Nexus are marketing aggressively to bring back footfall with targeted promotions. However, several local groups, even in Tier-2 cities have become tech-savvy and are adopting all kinds of digital media to reach out to their audiences.”

Gulab Patil, Founder & CEO, Lemma, shares that inventory in shopping malls have always been the most sought-after, place-based media when it comes to OOH plans.
"If we anticipate the malls in Mumbai to mirror the footfall trends in Delhi, we can expect the footfall to be anywhere between 12,000 on a weekday and 25,000 on weekends this month. OOH agencies strategically need to plan on how the new norms like social distancing, shopping by appointment, queues to enter the store, etc. are translating into higher dwell time and can be leveraged to the advantage of the brands. OOH stakeholders should assist advertisers to arrive at optimal plans with hourly audience movement mapping and other key data inputs to help them gage the real-time impact their ads can have. The re-opening may bring in some relief to the screen owners and this shall help them recover the losses once businesses are set in motion.”

On the brands that may come on board, Patil says, “Malls have a great advantage, right from versatile audience profiles to digitized screens with dynamic ads, all of which can be leveraged to construct most effective plans for a host of advertisers. Contextual ad placement at malls will drive relevant ad exposures and maximize audience reach. In this context categories like fashion brands, e-commerce apps, credit cards, mobile and other electronic or consumer durable devices can be advertised. Additionally, health and hygiene have become a default category in the new normal and hence malls can help serve as reminders to audiences, creating omnichannel strategies. Malls tend to host audiences who are digitally savvy and basis the audience profile, OTT platforms can also capitalize on the inventory.”


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