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  • Writer's pictureMarjolein Vlaming

The future of retail: How cultural and educational attractions can create the “place to be”

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

The future of retail depends on the ability of place owners to offer bold concepts that make retail environments “the place to be”. The rise of e-commerce, the online fatigue caused by the pandemic, and changes in demographics offer retail environments the opportunities to deliver innovative cultural and educational attractions that satisfy people’s demand for memorable, real-life experiences

After being both more connected and more socially isolated than ever, people are feeling an innate desire for more meaningful offline encounters. When visiting a mall or a city centre, audiences are hungry for attractive cultural and educational activities that complement their visit, and give them a reason to come back.

Although providing Instagrammable experiences has become essential to attract visitors, people are increasingly curious and interested in learning something new about the world. What if place owners could offer unexpected encounters with the masterpieces of the Dutch Masters of the 17th Century? Or what if people could embark on a deep-sea journey to become aware of the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans? And what’s more, what if delivering these experiences could help to generate additional footfall and contribute to the overall attractiveness of retail locations?

Previous experience shows that combining cultural and educational services with retail activities contributes to an overall positive experience that benefits customers, place owners, and tenants. Mixed-use can play a role in enriching locations by tapping into people’s needs and wishes for reconnecting with the world and people around them.

Cultural attractions and educational activations One innovative model is the delivery of non-ticketed attractions or exhibits to deliver experiential services to reconnect with customers and visitors. Imagine filling vacant shops with an eye-catching pop-up exhibition about artificial intelligence, or enhancing already used spaces with an installation about ancient Egypt. Mixed-use offers plenty of opportunities to revitalise existing locations, generate place-awareness and provide customers with a reason to visit and re-visit.

The key to the success of these synergies lies in the combination of the careful curation of cultural and educational content with engaging, immersive experiences. This entails engaging people with all five senses, contrary to a more ‘window-like’ experience in which the observer only sees what is happening ‘from the outside’. The use of light and technology makes this possible by delivering attractive three-dimensional experiences that stay in people’s memories long after having lived them.

Today’s situation demonstrates the importance of delivering dynamic and integrated services that foster interactions with and between your customers, and give meaning to places and experiences. MuseumON can connect locations and world class cultural and educational organisations, museums and galleries to create a new generation of places that attract new demographics and boost footfall.

Let’s embrace the current opportunities and exploit the synergies of cultural and educational activations in retail.

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