Current Issue #488

Montefiore: Rundle Mall’s demographic shopping

Montefiore: Rundle Mall’s demographic shopping

Just around the corner from Sir Monty’s club there’s an Adelaide space where the demographic mirrors only recognise those under 35. Once it was the over-50s who were invisible, but in city retail, the horizon is shrinking.

It’s difficult to push through Rundle Mall’s daily scrum and imagine folks who don’t formally bear acknowledging, but according to some marketeers, some really don’t. As we live in a disposable society perhaps there’s some logic to it.

In Adelaide, the Rundle Mall setting is appropriate to the analogy of disposability, given that it appears that the Authority in charge of it last year disposed of folks over the age of 35 in its 2018–19 business plan. This came as a surprise to Sir Monty. Observe on any weekday or Saturday and the folks crowding the space come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and a majority are there because they have money and want to spend it there. But 2018 mall-linked market research suggests that someone convinced the Mall’s board that only three ‘distinct customer groups’ were worth specifically defining and courting during what’s left of this 2018–19 financial year, even though they only comprise about 40 per cent of customers. The board appears to have difficulty conceiving of anyone other than a university graduate, younger than 35 and someone with a thing about chocolate.

Sir Monty meets the criteria about the university bit, during which time he wrote his now-legendary masters thesis, titled ‘The extraction of Old Adelaide Money – Towards a richer paradigm’. He also does chocolate. But unfortunately he’s over 35, that category at which marketing types apparently close the books, cease data collecting and retreat to some coffee joint in the mall. The result means that when he enters the mall’s portal and strolls by the store mirrors, no image appears. The curious thing is that people beyond 35 often achieve their greatest earning power in the years that follow and are the most financially visible and active in that period of their working lives.

But if the following demographic is you, the Mall’s board have legitimised your presence in Adelaide’s commercial city heart. The Mall’s mirrors will see you clearly now. Here goes. Young professional, working in the city. No children. “Ahead of the curve, finger on the pulse of the social scene.” (Ah, the pulse. Sir Monty knew it well.) “On-trend mixing affordable basics with designer pieces, with a love of street-wear and brand-name sportswear. Premium domestic traveller, visiting Melbourne and Sydney as often as possible.” (Sir Monty’s colleagues once visited London and Paris as often as possible.) “Love to entertain at home … impressing their friends with their culinary skills. They’re chocolate lovers and can’t live without their morning coffee. They’re always looking for authentic experiences to share with their friends. Above average household income with luxury shopping tastes. Average spend in the mall per visit: $109.” (The data doesn’t record the number of visits.)

There are two other Mall Authority demographic categories, similar in many ways. The ‘CBD worker’ has familiarity. There’s mention again of university, no children, social travel, and they apparently also enjoy international travel, with a style that is “adventurous, with skiing on the bucket list and a high interest in North America, the UK and Europe”. They also crave chocolate, their morning coffee, music, theatre and boutique cinemas. They’re not quite as preoccupied with complete immersion under social media either, leaning also to real-time theatre and WOMAD – and books. Yes – real, printing ink paper books. Curiously, their average spend is only $90 per visit. (Perhaps that suggests something about book discounting today?)

The third category, specified a year ago in June 2018, was defined in anticipation of the orgy of December 2018 Mall shopping, titled ‘Christmas shopper’. Curiously, this person is exclusively female, lives in student accommodation in the CBD and apparently is “over-indexed in department stores, apparel, electronics and luxury watches and jewellery” and was last year anticipated to spend “over 20 per cent of her Christmas wallet in Rundle Mall”. Sir Monty can identify in a way with this shopper, given his own over-indexing habits, often speculating well beyond the standard stock market index, and exploring well beyond the Adelaide eastern suburbs index likely for the scent of hidden deposits of Old Adelaide Money. Despite this, the Mall mirrors still won’t reflect him.

Something bothers Sir Monty about a demographic data anomaly evident about this woman. “She has a dog and likes to keep active by walking her dog and going to the gym,” the mall’s board profile says. It’s difficult to conceive of someone living five floors up in the heart of the high-rise metropolis with a dog. The apartment strata regulations wouldn’t allow it. Perhaps she’s found a way to negotiate that curious Mall portal feature – when she walks the pooch, like Sir Monty’s generation, the mirrors simply fail to recognise it.

Header image:
amophoto_au / Shutterstock

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