Marketing communications in planned shopping centres: evidence from the UK

Gary Warnaby (School of Management, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
David Bennison (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Manchester, UK)
Barry J. Davies (Gloucestershire Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper investigates brand‐level marketing communications decisions of town centre‐based planned shopping centres in the UK.


Following exploratory semi‐structured interviews with town centre‐based shopping centre managers, the main stage of the research comprised a postal questionnaire. This investigated two main areas: the nature of the process by which marketing/promotional activities were planned; and the actual “marketing” activities used by respondents (and their perceived importance), with particular reference to marketing communications activities. The questionnaire was administered to shopping centre managers in urban shopping destinations classified as major city, major regional, regional and sub‐regional in the Management Horizons Europe UK Shopping Index – 173 destinations in total across the whole of the UK.


The results are structured using Shimp's categories of general choices, specific choices and programme evaluation. Regarding general choices (i.e. targeting, objectives budgeting), centre positioning was regarded as very important and key target audiences were general public and media at the local/regional level. Objectives focused on raising centre profile and improving footfall. Centres spent an average of 13.6 per cent of operating budget on promotional activities. With regard to specific choices (i.e. mixing communication elements, creating messages), the most widely used promotional elements were found to be press and radio advertising, events and festivals, leaflets and other promotional literature and also public relations. Evidence of integration between communications elements existed although there is potential for greater synergy.


Research into the marketing of planned shopping centres has been somewhat lacking in comparison to other aspects of their operations. As centres face a more intensely competitive environment, the need for effective marketing and promotion is increasingly acknowledged, and this paper provides evidence of the current use of marketing activities in this context.



Warnaby, G., Bennison, D. and Davies, B. (2005), "Marketing communications in planned shopping centres: evidence from the UK", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 33 No. 12, pp. 893-904.

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