How to Use Print in a Shopping Mall Advertising Strategy

by Andy Wilson
on 2nd March 2022

Shopping malls have been a part of Britain’s built landscape for over fifty years, with the first shopping complex – the Bullring in Birmingham – opening in the UK in 1964. There have been many changes to both the retail sector and what’s possible in print advertising during the intervening decades, but one thing is as true as it’s ever been – that an impactful shopping mall advertising strategy can represent great ROI.

How shopping centres have changed

Shopping malls have faced plenty of upheaval in recent years, but the sector is future-proofing its way to an impressive bounceback. Transforming in the face of external pressures such as the 2008 downturn, rise of online retail and the COVID-19 pandemic, these spaces have evolved into multifunctional leisure facilities, and continue to draw tens of millions of visitors a year.

The changes seen in shopping malls include innovative ways to use the space and a greater focus on experiential retail. As brands undergo digital transformations and develop their online operations, there’s been a drive to reinvent their physical stores to make them as immersive and experiential as possible, offering customers something they can’t find online.

Print advertising and branding, when used effectively, can contribute to the richness and aesthetic interest of the wider retail space, and captivate the huge amount of people who visit shopping centres every week.

What is shopping mall advertising?

Shopping mall print advertising is a marketing channel that utilises the spaces inside and outside a shopping centre as a canvas for branding and promotional materials. There are a huge amount of options on offer to those interested in using print to advertise within a shopping centre, with every space from lifts to flooring providing opportunities for inventive and eye-catching print marketing.

There are also very few limits on the kinds of businesses and industries that can benefit from actioning a shopping mall advertising strategy. Businesses and brands unconnected to the shopping centre can take advantage of the high footfall and broad demographics of its visitors to reach new audiences, while brands located within the mall can tempt people in-store and brand their retail spaces.

What are the advantages of print advertising in a shopping mall?

There is no doubt that the world of marketing has changed to a near-unbelievable degree. The rise of Internet shopping and its natural ally, digital marketing, has created more avenues for advertising than can easily be conceived of. But as the world of digital advertising matures and the first flurries of disruption and excitement settle down, most companies have found that a dual approach of traditional and new-fashioned marketing gains the best results, and that traditional advertising is still a vital part of developing a business into a brand.

The fundamental promise of digital advertising is that it can use data to identify and target personalised ads at customers according to both intentionality and consumer profile – although new legislation and restrictions continue to limit how this data can be collected and used. This has been undeniably powerful for businesses, but the advantage of shopping mall advertising is reaching a broad range of people who are not simply idly browsing websites, but are choosing to shop, eat and be entertained as a recreational activity.

Advertising in a shopping centre places your brand in front of thousands of people every day who have a clear intention to buy, and somewhere they are likely to be relaxed and enjoying themselves. With the inclusion of food halls, cinemas, activities and events, shopping centres have become destinations people head to for a fun day out – open to new experiences and with money to spend.

It is also a diverse space where there are many opportunities to advertise and where that advertising is likely to get noticed, with high amounts of foot traffic and moments of downtime (such as on escalators and within lifts) where people are likely to absorb the information around them. This has the potential to create truly engaging and memorable marketing, rather than something that’s forgotten after a few scrolls or clicks.

A consistent shopping mall advertising strategy (that aligns with your brand and broader advertising efforts) also helps to foster the relationship between you and your customers. This brand building is key to the long-term success of a business, helping you to reach short term sales goals while laying foundations for the future through great branding.

There is typically a shopping mall advertising strategy to suit every business, from high street retailers to small local firms. Reaching people when they are at ease and in the right mindset to enjoy shopping is a great way to build awareness, trust and ultimately convert new customers, serving both the needs of brand building and making sales in a cost-effective way.

What makes a print shopping mall advertising strategy successful?

There are many different elements of a print advertising strategy that can factor into its success or failure. It is important to consider the particular environment of a shopping centre and the flow of traffic within it to chose the most strategic position for print graphics, while also understanding the options on offer to you to ensure you can communicate most effectively through print.

Understanding the advertising space:

Shopping centres are a unique space, and there can be great variation between them and a variety of architectural and functional features to take into account. There are a plethora of opportunities to be found for creative print marketing across the shopping centre environment, and it can be helpful to think outside of the box to identify where print can look most impressive.

For example, high ceilings can be ideal for tension graphics systems, while the enclosed and intimate nature of lifts lends itself to something more immersive – which is perfectly illustrated by our project promoting BBC’s His Dark Materials.

Understanding what prints are available to you:

When combined with the experience of expert technicians, the printing technology available to marketers today can lead to some truly outstanding results. Design, colour, substrates, size and positioning are all vital considerations and it’s important to explore the possibilities in order to end up with the most impactful results. The scope of what can be achieved with our cutting-edge machinery and expertise is often beyond people’s expectations, so taking a look at our case studies is a great first step in outlining your print strategy.

How can you utilise print in a shopping mall advertising strategy?

As mentioned above, there are a broad spectrum of print advertising options to consider when building your strategy. These include (but aren’t limited to):

Escalator Graphics:

Adhered to the barriers and stairs of escalators, escalators graphics are a cost-effective and powerful marketing solution for shopping malls. Escalators are often a focal point in shopping centres and a key area for foot traffic, and using them as a canvas for print marketing materials can be highly compelling.

Lakeside escalator graphics


Lift Graphics:

As another means of facilitating movement through a shopping mall, lift graphics (whether on the interior or exterior of lifts) naturally draw attention from people enjoying a day out at a shopping centre. The ways in which lifts are organised into the wider architecture of a shopping mall tends to vary, and there are many ways to utilise this feature to its best effect.

Sunderland Lifts

Retail Graphics:

It goes without saying that the defining factor in a shopping centre is its shops. For those located within shopping centres, a print marketing strategy doesn’t need to end at the entrance of their store. Retail graphics are an excellent way to enhance your brand or highlight short term offers and campaigns within your retail premises.

Tension Fabric Frames:

One of the architectural characteristics of shopping centres is that they are often built using mezzanines, creating stunning atriums where shoppers enjoy a grand sense of space. This creates the perfect opportunity to capture people’s attention using tension fabric frames – graphics printed onto a fabric panel and then inserted, at tension, into an aluminium frame that hangs overhead.

At PressOn we have years of experience in consulting on shopping mall advertising strategies, before going on to design, print and install highly effective print marketing materials. If you would like to find out more, we are always happy to chat.

Tension fabric cube prints

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Written by
Andy Wilson Managing Director