Talking shopping in Brighton

Last month we rubbed shoulders with over 500 representatives from the UK retail industry during the 2018 Shopping Centre Management Conference in Brighton. Never a company to hold back on addressing the burning issues of the moment, we asked visitors to our stand: ‘where do you think your marketing budgets are best placed in today’s ever-changing retail world?’

Our survey took the form of a voting system over the two-day conference. Giving participants 10 tokens each – which represented 100% of their marketing budget in 10% denominations – delegates were asked to place the tokens into six category boxes: advertising, design, digital, events, publicity, and social media. The more tokens they placed into a box, the higher the priority it represented.

The results revealed that when it comes to allocating marketing budgets, ‘events’ were the top priority for industry leaders, with 29% of the budget being used to drive footfall, entertain shoppers and enhance the overall customer experience. The results may come as little surprise, with the rise of online shopping eroding the profits of bricks-and-mortar retailers who now find they need to differentiate themselves by focusing on creating a shopping ‘experience’ that can’t be enjoyed at home.

Social media came in second place. This must-have tool for retail marketing received 21.4% of the votes and reflects the continuing popularity of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Digital claimed third place, with 16.4% allocated for website and/or app development, SEO and PPC campaigns. This is hardly surprising given that, in the last four years alone, the number of registered websites in the world has risen by 109% to over 1.8 billion!

In fourth place was design, with 13.4% of the budget being assigned here, followed closely by traditional advertising (print and radio) and publicity, with 10.1% and 9.5% of the budget being spent in these categories respectively. Whilst it’s clear the level of choice around marketing platforms has diluted the focus away from more traditional channels, here at PMW we think it’s important for the industry not to overlook the power of traditional media.

Commenting on the results, our MD Peter Sutton noted: “Working in this industry for over 25 years I have been privy to the biggest trends and changes in the marketing world. Just looking back at the 1990s we didn’t have the choice of marketing platforms that we have today, they simply didn’t exist, so we had to rely on adverts in local newspapers, magazines, and radio stations.

“Move forward to the turn of the millennium and PR was in its heyday as business owners soon realised just how much publicity could be achieved for minimal investment. As consumers’ habits changed over the years – turning to blogs, online news and listings guides – the sector grew, and today it’s still one of the most cost-effective ways of targeting an audience.

“Shopping centres have become the 21st century village green of the community, where people come to shop, socialise and be entertained. However, budgets have changed dramatically. Whilst the bigger destination schemes may still have large budgets to put on extravagant immersive events, the community-focused centres are having to stretch their resources and turn to creative solutions utilising partnerships and low-cost, yet effective ideas wherever possible. Shopping centres have had to adapt fast, just as we have. PMW’s staff has more than tripled since we first opened our doors and now we have departments covering every sector possible.”


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Sally Burfoot
Senior PR Manager

Article by:

Sally Burfoot -
Senior PR Manager

A highly knowledgeable PR expert with more than 25 years’ experience working in the media industry. Sally initially trained as a journalist and cut her teeth on both regional and national news desks before moving across to PR.

Over the years, she’s created numerous successful campaigns for clients including a global aviation company, the British Heart Foundation, builders merchants, and shopping centres up and down the country.

Outside of work, you’ll find Sally either strolling along a beach or jumping up and down at a music gig.