Experiences fuel shopping centre appeal
Consumer Insights: Experiences keep shopping centres at heart of local life
Sep 20, 2023

The experience economy is giving new meaning to the role of shopping centres in community life, according to the latest survey in QIC’s Consumer Insights series.


At a time when consumers are increasingly seeking a sense of community and actively pursuing meaningful moments over material possessions, the experience economy is driving big changes in the role of retail destinations.

A recent survey of more than 4500 Australian shoppers conducted by McCrindle Research showed that 80 per cent of respondents claimed to favour shopping centres that cater to whole-of-life needs over more traditional malls, while more than half of QIC customers surveyed cited family-friendly entertainment as a key component of the ideal retail environment. The study also found that more than half of Australian families with young children, and around 40 per cent of couples, dine out at their local shopping centre at least once a quarter.

In a webinar unpacking the results (watch below), Research Principal Mark McCrindle and QIC Research Manager Rachel Logan explain how consumers are increasingly looking for shopping centres to serve as multifaceted civic spaces that provide animation and inspiration in daily life.

Fostering connection

The survey highlighted the importance of providing spaces that foster connection, community and a sense of wellbeing; feature thoughtful design with an emphasis on green spaces; and offer engaging food and entertainment experiences. 

Logan says: “This is about the shift in consumer mindset to choose retail destinations that create memorable experiences for them.” McCrindle agrees: “Australians prioritise lifestyle, and they really love it when their places that they visit really curate or facilitate that lifestyle – and that’s what shopping centres have become.”

More than a quarter of QIC customers agreed that shopping centres should contain spaces for community events, while more than 40 per cent of all those surveyed look out for pop-up retail experiences from local and independent businesses. 

Outdoor communal seating also proved popular with almost half of respondents, with accessibility second only to cleanliness as the most important factor in making them feel at ease and valued while shopping. McCrindle adds that our ageing population and increased isolation is amplifying the need for “new gathering points in our society to be places where everybody is welcome”.

Maximising store attractiveness

The research also suggests that over four in five Australian shoppers are compelled to be loyal to a brand if they receive good service in a physical store, while 60 per cent are motivated by loyalty program discounts or incentives. 

McCrindle and Logan add that shopping centre operators and retail partners must develop design solutions for fast and frictionless purchasing at the same time as building on the success of town square-style offerings in order to serve different consumer missions.

To learn more about the opportunities arising from the shift to an experience economy, watch Mark McCrindle in discussion with QIC's Rachel Logan below.

Download our PDF summary of experience economy learnings and stay tuned for more from QIC's six-part Consumer Insights series designed to help retail partners anticipate and respond to shifts in shopper needs, beliefs and behaviours.