K11 is a ’museum retail concept’ with malls in Shanghai and Hong Kong that blend art, shopping, dining and leisure. Following a visit to the innovative K11 Mall Shanghai, Mintel’s Retail Analyst, Alice Goody, explores the opportunities for a similar hybrid gallery and shopping mall within the UK retail sector…

An interactive art playground

IMG_6462K11 Shanghai is an innovative shopping mall housed in a skyscraper with six floors of retail, dining and art experiences. K11 describes itself as an ‘art playground, where ideas, trends and lifestyles collide to form new ideas and new inspirations’. The concept is completely different to shopping malls found in the UK and could provide inspiration for a fresh approach to retailing. Mintel research suggests a similar ‘museum retail concept’ may have the greatest appeal among UK Millennials.

The retail offering mainly consists of luxury brands mixed with mid-market names and contemporary Chinese brands. Currently making an appearance at K11 is Danish homeware and furniture brands HAY, which is hosting a pop-up space, the HAY Mini Market, between October and December 2015.

Blending Entertainment and Retail Therapy

A key feature of K11 is the artwork and entertainment it offers, which makes the mall stand out from the abundance of other shopping complexes in the city. Displays include work from local young artists, screens displaying video content and a games zone.

All of these features are designed to provide an interesting, stimulating experience and increase dwell time in the centre. Most importantly, it makes K11 an attractive destination. This is a great example of the Mintel Trend Experience is All, which finds that retailers’ over-emphasis on speed, convenience and price has led consumers to crave experience more than ever. K11 excels at blurring the retail and leisure experience and we think this is something that UK retailers and shopping centre operators would do well to take inspiration from.

An Immersive and Novel ExperienceDining experiences

The dining experiences at K11 are varied and immersive, with interactive displays and food samples encouraging shoppers to try something new. One example is Peter’s Gourmet – a steak restaurant where chefs are frying steaks on the shop floor for passers by to taste. This multi-sensory dining experience would have appeal to UK Millennials. According to Mintel’s Leisure Habits of Millennials UK 2015 report, 52% of these consumers said they would be interested in venues that offer food tasting.

K11 isn’t only about the material though; it’s focus on nature means an entire floor is dedicated to ‘urban farming’ where herbs, chillis and other edible plants are grown – with the aim of reconnecting Shanghai to nature. Other features include a ‘Dairy Cow Academy’ where live cows are being kept in pens – not something we would suggest for the UK retail market, but it certain demonstrates K11’s commitment to creating an immersive and novel experience.

IMG_6456What can the UK market learn from this model?

Within the UK, Mintel research suggests that a hybrid gallery and shopping mall may have the greatest appeal among Millennials, as these consumers show the most interest in varied and social experiences when shopping and are already the most attracted to city centre shopping malls. Indeed, according to Mintel’s Shopping Locations UK 2015 report, 59% of 16-24s had visited a major shopping mall or city centre shops in the past six months, compared to 39% of over 45s.

Additionally, just over one quarter of 16-24s had used at least four different leisure facilities in a shopping centre, showing they value a diverse experience. Yet declining footfall in shopping centres suggests that a fresh approach is needed to draw more shoppers in. The inclusion of art in a retail environment could give shopping venues a point of difference and a reason for consumers to make the effort to come in store rather than purchase online.

With two thirds of of Millennials visiting a museum, gallery or exhibition in the past 12 months and one in 10 visiting once a month, we can see an active interest in cultural or educational experiences among young consumers. This interest, coupled with their appetite for shopping, suggests that a hybrid gallery and shopping venue could have strong appeal among Millennials.

Alice joined the retail team at Mintel in 2014 and has researched a wide range of sectors including fashion, home and food retailing. She previously worked in the fashion industry, for retailers including Coast, Ted Baker and Debenhams. At Mintel, Alice writes the daily retail news and keeps an eye out for the latest innovations in retail.