Lalaport Izumi is the latest in Mitsui’s growing chain of large, suburban family shopping centres. While some developers still aim at broad customer segments in the hope of attracting customers from a wide area, many suffer from low footfall during weekdays, but Mitsui is once again proving that it is able to target local shopping needs without alienating the wider catchment.
Lalaport Izumi is targeting young mothers with babies as operator Mitsui looks to better focus on the needs of local markets around each of its properties. The new SC opened in December as the latest in the Lalaport format of large-scale, suburban centres, and has a special team in place looking for ways to make shopping easier for mothers. The team is made up of seven female employees, all of different ages, but all who have children of their own.
One of the main aims is to encourage traffic during the slower weekdays as well as at weekends – which leaves younger mothers as the only clear target. Lalaport Izumi already has plenty of options to target this segment in terms of shopping, including a large Akachan Honpo and Old Navy among the 220 tenants.
Mitsui has arranged most of the main children’s retailers alongside food tenants on the 2nd floor near the main entrance, hoping to make the SC more attractive to mothers looking to pop-in for a light meal with kids. Special kids’ menus have been introduced at restaurants, better spacing to negotiate baby-buggies, and special mothers’ set meals, designed for those all important coffee mornings and lunches with groups of like-minded mums.
Unusually, the food court has a tatami area where mothers can sit and eat while babies sleep on the floor beside them, and there is a large cafe and jungle gym on the top floor designed for a wide range of ages. Mitsui has even thought about the height of locks on toilet doors, raising them out of the reach of little hands as many mothers may need to use them while keeping an eye on small children. Some cubicles even have adult and child toilets side by side. The baby-room also has individual breast feeding cubicles that are big enough to easily accommodate a baby-buggy.
The area around Lalaport Izumi is a new dormitory town and, as detailed in JapanConsuming’s Top 100 Consumer Zones report, a rare example of a town still enjoying population growth. Until now, local mothers have mostly visited central Osaka for their shopping, but Lalaport is hoping it can be convenient enough to encourage more to shop locally throughout the week. While many of its efforts are not individually unusual, as a whole Lalaport Izumi is an example of how some shopping centre developers are making strides to establish links with local market needs, something that Mitsui does particularly well and that others could well learn from. JC
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