Large scale and luxury shopping malls are sprouting like green grasses at the fall of dew in Abuja and several other big cities across Nigeria. In this piece, VICTOR OKEKE examines why shoppers are willing to get on the queue and sometimes even pay more to buy at these places.
Luxury shopping is about more than the stores. It needs to be an experience, and most shopping malls deliver on that front.
For these large scale shopping malls springing up in the cities like Game, Spar, Shoprite, Exclusive Stores, Next Cash and Carry, Roban Stores, Grand Square, Sahad Stores and host of others, among the many amenities is a personal shopper service to help pick the best groceries for a shopper, a currency exchange, commercial banks, cinemas, and amusement parks attached.
They have events for the kids. There are live concerts. You can have your car detailed at the auto shop while you shop. Plus, you might catch a glimpse of a few celebrities perusing the shops.
You can expect all the luxury brands, such as Gucci, Dior, Versace, Prada, and Louis Vuitton in a refined setting with glass sculptures, an indoor treehouse, and Earth-friendly amenities.
In fact, some places like the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja offer open-air rooftop restaurant with views of the magnificent sailable lake and the park across the lake is definitely one of a kind.
According to a 2017 study by Leonardo Ortegón-Cortázar on the “Attraction factors of shopping centres” people visit malls not only to buy a product they need but also to enjoy the atmosphere or environment of the shopping centre.
Shopping centres are, by definition, spaces with a high level of design of the commercial environment. In this case, it seems obvious that the design of ecological spaces and environments has the potential of becoming a field of interest for customers.
Experts say physical environment, cleanliness and security are important factors influencing behaviour of visitors in these shopping malls.
In this regard, Mr Courage Azuani, an environmentalist in Asaba, Delta State said the huge and cozy appearance of the mall in Asaba is lovely, attractive and catchy and has always attracted fun seekers not just to shop and buy but to also have a good time out.
According to Azuani, “the way complimentary goods are arranged all over the store avails me the opportunity to juxtapose the wares- I can compare prices and check their expiry dates and still make personal choices even on things I didn’t initially plan to buy.”
In the commercial field, the incorporation of spaces with vegetation impacts shopping behaviour and emotions. Furthermore, the environmental design of commercial settings oriented toward the consumption and lifestyle in natural spaces favours the relation between the environment and their well-being.
According to Professor Fabian Ajogwu SAN, chairman of the Novare Group, the creation of an enjoyable environment becomes the objective in the construction to improve consumers’ shopping experience.
Some residents of Abuja considered mobility and accessibility of the shopping centre to be more important than attractiveness.
“Mobility and accessibility of the shopping centre positively impact the users’ intention to visit the shopping centre,” Chigozie Kalu, an Abuja resident said at the Novare Central Mall, Wuse.
Additionally, mobility and accessibility features as attraction factors can be favoured by different services offered in the field of amusement and entertainment.
Studies have indicated that shopping centres have improved their own image and attractiveness due to the inclusion of other services such as restaurants, relaxation spots, and entertainment services.
This can be considered to be a favourable offer for leisure, and sight-seeing for new visitors in town. And for some students and young folks, these malls are exquisite studios for taking social media photos.
Kingsley Achi, a medical student of the University of Nigeria, in Enugu said, “even in school here, people do go to this kind of malls not really to buy things, but to snap pictures and relax.”
For Azuani, the “swag of visiting a big store is another motivating factor for visiting them over the traditional markets. It is flashy and classy to onlookers seeing to packages.”
Again, offering variety, alternatives, quality, and status have been a traditional attraction advantage of the shopping malls.
According to Akpome Oshievire in Enugu, the quality, variety and packaging of these new big malls have a major influence on his purchase decisions.
He said “a large scale shopping mall basically would not want to soil its image by selling inferior or default products.”
“It is easier to believe that something from Shoprite or Spar is original when compared to the regular roadside stores.”
Akpome added that the advertisements, packaging designs, display and pricing techniques can make a customer buy things he knows he doesn’t really need while creating the impression that at a later date, these things will surely come in handy.
Several other respondents who spoke on the issue like Samuel Etuk in Lagos said that the big malls have a pricing technique, which attracts customers in the belief that products are really cheaper there.
Marketers call this psychological or charm pricing. This is based on the theory that certain prices have psychological impact on customers, as such; retail prices are expressed as ‘odd prices’- a little less than a round number, for example, N99.99 or N499.89.
There is evidence that consumers tend to perceive odd prices are being nearly lower than they actually are, tending to round to the next monetary unit. Thus, prices such as N599 are associated with spending N500 rather N600. The theory that drives this, according to experts, is that lower pricing such as this institutes greater demand than if consumers were perfectly rational.
Pius Boachie, founder of DigitiMatic said another effective strategy of luring consumers by the big malls is the use of promotional strategies, which creates the impression that customers are really getting additional value for their money.
He said one of these is the idea of “Buy one, get one free.” This is a pricing strategy in which customers pay the full price for one product or service to get another for free.
The psychological strategy at work here is, simply, greed. Once a customer comes across the offer, logic gets tossed to the wind and the main focus is making a purchase to get the free item.
Now, because this technique has been widely adopted and most people are no longer taking the bait, shops now also stir things up a bit by offering one of the following: “Buy one and get 25 per cent off your next purchase;” “Purchase one and get four bonuses valued at N600, for free,” “Buy one, get three for free.”
Boachie said another technique is the use of comparative pricing: placing expensive next to standard. Comparative pricing may be tagged as the most effective psychological pricing strategy. This simply involves offering two similar products simultaneously but making one product’s price much more attractive than the other.
This is a psychological game of choice for the customer, who has to choose between two products that are similar but have different prices.
This strategy works well with fashion brands, which place side by side tuxedos with similar quality but different prices, to make customers pick the more expensive one, which is the desired purchase. To the average human, if something is expensive, then it is “quality.”
According to research, simply changing the font, size and colour of the signage for the current sale price and placing it a little bit away from the previous pricing will increase the number of purchases, because customers see the new price as cheaper and a better deal than the previous price.
However, respondents are of the view that modern luxury shopping malls will not totally wipe out the need for patronising the traditional street shops.
For one thing, the traditional shops and open markets employ more people than all the big malls combined as they represent one of the largest categories of workers in retail trade, along with food, drink, grocery, and cloth retail shops.
Almost all residential areas in Nigeria are covered by the street markets organised periodically, which attract customers of supermarkets and department stores on the rationale of convenience and low buying cost to customers in addition to the derived satisfaction of freshness of products.
According to Ishaq Daud, a resident of Abuja, when you compare the cost of transporting yourself to some of these malls at times and the seeming price difference with the roadside retail shops around you, you may be forced to stay away from the big malls.
For Ogechukwu Ejimkonye in Port Harcourt, the big malls are festive shopping centres as they are clearly designed for high-class section of the public who usually besiege these malls on festive holiday seasons.
“Someone like me doesn’t get so attracted to the big malls as long as I can get what I want within my neighborhood,” he said.
Comparative pricing may be tagged as the most effective psychological pricing strategy. This simply involves offering two similar products simultaneously but making one product’s price much more attractive than the other
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