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How insight drives intu forward

With an unrivalled digital offering, an annual footfall of 400 million and two thirds of the UK’s shopping population living within 45 minutes of one of our centers, intu’s scale means we don’t just see the big picture, we are the big picture.

By Trevor Pereira

But we rely on more than just our scale and market-leading footfall to drive our business forward and help our retailers to flourish. In order to create the destinations and experiences that keep customers coming back more often and for longer, we look for quality, actionable insight to understand exactly why our customers visit their favorite centers and, more importantly, return.

In fact, our drive for this kind of valuable insight has played a key part in the development of intu’s marketing-leading, consumer-focused strategy since its earliest inception. Work began on our strategy in 2012, and included the commissioning of a unique piece of research that aimed to get under the skin of our customers in a completely new way for the sector. Working with a specialist retail consumer consultancy, we had a very simple question at the heart of this detailed project: “What makes a good shopping experience?”

Carried out across the country, three-hour “shop-alongs” aimed to give a wide range of our customers the opportunity to share their experiences as they shopped. One of the most resounding insights from this study was just how large a part shopping centers can play in people’s lives and how often they are seen as a place to leave the everyday pressures of life behind. It highlighted six distinct ways in which people gain pleasure from their shopping experience beyond the transactional, such as the personal connection and sense of ownership, the desire to feel “more than a shopper,” and the importance of creating a sense of place and belonging within each of our centers.

The insight it delivered continues to drive forward our business and how we interact with our customers to this day. It has helped shape not only intu’s consumer-facing brand, but also our signature customer experiences, and industry-leading digital offering and has led to the appointment of the first customer experience director in the retail real estate sector.

By examining what provides customers with a sense of fun and engagement, we continue to use this insight to ensure that our centers meet the wide range of emotional, practical, and experiential needs and expectations of our shoppers. This is all with the aim of turning our high footfall into loyal fans for intu, helping to increase dwell time, frequency of visits, and advocacy to the benefit of our retailers, restaurateurs, and leisure operators.


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