Many eyes in the UK are currently focused on the retail sector. As the most visible barometer of consumer confidence and a tangible indicator of the economy as a whole, the act of stimulating retail sales is key in times of recession.
Another aspect of this sector is soon to attract eyeballs, as for many a shopping centre is likely to be the gateway to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The combination of a struggling economy and numerous overseas visitors is likely to be an attractive one for the nation’s shopkeepers.
A Visa report suggests that consumer spending could increase by £750m over the seven weeks of the Olympics, with international visitors alone expected to spend £709m - 18% more than if they were simply travelling here for a typical holiday.
Of this spend, high street and mall retailers are expected to cash in an additional £108m. It is logical to expect that much of this spend will be concentrated around the Olympic site and central London, with major shopping centres poised to reap the rewards.
Which begs the question, how to best influence this spending? One answer, especially for transient shoppers like Olympics tourists, would be to advertise directly in those areas where people will be looking to spend, like the shopping malls themselves.
For many marketers this platform often provides a 'last chance to see' advertising boost to their campaigns directly in the space where shoppers are poised to spend and consider their purchases.
However during the Olympic weeks this space can also provide a valuable visual stimulus for campaigns to which overseas visitors may not have been exposed.
Recent Outdoor Media Centre research has found that out of home advertising has the ability to influence each stage of the consumer purchase planning process, whether on its own or in conjunction with other media.
Its ability to raise awareness and key placement location of shopping centres themselves can directly influence purchase decisions.
The fact that out of home by its very nature is often all around consumers during their physical shopping journeys is a central one: the last medium encountered before passing through the shop doors in an ideal position to influence purchase decisions.
However it’s also important to remember that out of home is also influencing and informing other journeys, and this exposure can feed into other platforms including online search terms and multichannel retailing as well as physical store interactions. The influence of out of home eyeballs can be wide ranging.
Looking specifically at the shopping centre environment, our findings have discovered that mall campaigns can stimulate a 70% increase in propensity to purchase, along with a 74% increase in brand endorsement.
In terms of stimulating an appetite to find out more about an advertised product or service, outdoor has been found by the OMC to increase consideration among 72% of shoppers, while it directly increases propensity to buy among 59%.
Even in a crowded branding environment like the Games - with 26 brands associated together as Worldwide Olympic partners, London 2012 Olympic Partners and London 2012 Olympics Supporters - not to mention 28 further Olympic providers and suppliers, creative executions and engaging platforms have the potential for real, long-lasting impact with shoppers both homegrown and overseas.
As many eyeballs train on East London and the brands associated with the upcoming Games, I firmly believe it will also be outdoor advertising which takes centre stage.
And for those retailers and companies looking to make an impact and access the additional money flooding into London this summer, a presence in the very place where these purchases will transact may set the gold standard.