Mall developers have come a long way in how they package and sell sponsorship.

The primary reason: more integrated packages.

While they once focused primarily on vehicle displays, banner ads and other static assets, mall developers are increasingly offering integrated platforms designed to enhance the shopping experience.

And to perhaps no surprise, malls are increasingly creating sponsorship packages that span both the physical and digital worlds.

Case in point: Caribou Coffee Co. in February activated its partnership with Mall of America with an interactive display to promote the launch of Real Inspiration Blend, a coffee line created through a collaboration with fans on Pinterest.

Caribou touted the coffee blend with a 10-day interactive takeover in the Mall of America Rotunda. The takeover featured a 64-foot tall Pinterest board on which guests could post inspirational photos, demonstrations by Lululemon Athletica and other lifestyle retailers located in the mall, product sampling, a large-scale Caribou coffee mug and a photo booth where attendees could capture the moment and share it with friends and family via social media.

“We have more than 42 million visitors every year and we’re connecting with them as much as we can through our digital and social connections,” said Mike Tvrdik, Mall of America’s vice president of strategic alliances.

The mall touted the promotion through Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, he said.

“Everything is digital. We want to leverage social media in every campaign.”

Mall of America has expanded its use of social media over the past two years as part of its Enhanced Service Portal, an on-site technology hub that monitors social media chatter in a real-time environment. The hub is housed within the mall’s security and telephone operations departments.

Below, IEG SR highlights six other trends and hot buttons in the mall space.

More integrated packages. Mall developers are increasingly offering packages that move beyond on-site display and other static inventory.

Simon Property Group, Inc. this year secured a multiyear partnership between Rick Case Automotive Group and Sawgrass Mills, a property in Sunrise, Fla. In addition to showcasing vehicles, the dealership is using the tie to boost membership in its loyalty program and recruit multilingual employees via on-site kiosks and brand ambassadors.  

“We have built up a significant inventory of dedicated media assets to amplify our sponsor partners,” said Chip Harding, senior vice president of Simon Brand Ventures, the marketing arm of Simon Property Group.

MOST ACTIVE SPONSORS OF MALLS (U.S.)
MOST ACTIVE SPONSORS OF MALLS (U.S.)
Seventeen percent of malls report having PepsiCo as a sponsor.

Programs that enhance the shopping experience. Continuing a trend seen over the past several years, malls are increasingly relying on marketers to enhance the shopping experience and offset competition from online retailers.

As demonstrated by the Caribou Coffee promotion, that frequently includes on-site sampling and other types of interactive programs.   

Simon last month announced a partnership with Fuhu, Inc., the creator the of the nabi children’s tablet. Fuhu will leverage the partnership with interactive “Do-seums” where parents and their children can interact with the technology in an immersive environment.

Continued interest from the healthcare category. Hospitals, health insurance and other health companies remain active players in the mall space.

While healthcare companies have typically sponsored play areas and walking programs to support their health and wellness message, some are moving beyond those assets by aligning with mall programming and events.   

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota last year sponsored a health and wellness program at Simon’s Maplewood Mall in Minneapolis. The program educated consumers about how many calories they would burn by parking at specific locations in the mall’s parking lot and by taking stairs instead of an escalator.

Simon also sells sponsorship to expectant mother programs that offer preferred parking, concierge service and other benefits for soon-to-be moms.

More business-back opportunities. Some malls have followed the lead of pro sports teams by turning vendors into corporate partners.

As Mall of America’s official waste management system, Waste Management, Inc. gains business from the mall and the opportunity to talk to consumers about residential garbage service.

The company also uses the tie to entertain employees and their families through outings at Nickelodeon Universe, the mall’s theme park.

More focus on proprietary events. Simon Group this summer plans to build on its Simon Fashion Now events by taking a deeper dive in the fashion space. The company hosts the three-day runway shows at the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania, Fashion Valley in San Diego and other high-profile properties.

“We’re taking a deeper dive into our fashion strategy,” said Harding.

MOST ACTIVE CATEGORIES SPONSORING MALLS (U.S.)
MOST ACTIVE CATEGORIES SPONSORING MALLS (U.S.)
Soft drinks are 3.7 times more likely to sponsor malls than the average of all sponsors.

Turn tenants into sponsors. When scouting prospects, Glimcher Realty Trust looks for new product launches, store renovations, store openings and other activity that could fuel the need for more marketing firepower.

“We’re seeing more retailers getting involved with mall inventory,” said Gerritt Smith, Glimcher’s senior manager of partnership marketing. 

That activity often includes mall takeovers. Nike, Inc. leveraged the 2014 NFL Super Bowl with sky banners, floor decals and other marketing collateral at The Outlet Collection/Jersey Gardens in the two months leading up to the game.

Glimcher has run similar takeovers with H&M, Levi’s and other retailers.