Creating a catchy and outstanding theme

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  • Monday, 14 May 2012

Sungei Wang Plaza

Sungei Wang Plaza (SWP), a popular mid-range shopping mall that celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, has been working with an external agency for its visual merchandising projects in the past years.

“As the mall has a relatively smaller team, we outsource all our work to an external visual merchandising designer,” said SWP Promotions and Public Relations Department senior manager KK Lim.

“We engaged Kelvin H’ng from Kelvin H’ng K Design Collection seven years ago when visual merchandising grew to become a serious business.

“It was a business strategy to move with the times and improve on the mall’s marketing and promotion activities,” he said, adding that SWP worked with an advertising agency for all the mall decorations for 15 years prior to that.

Lim said the mall usually works three to four months ahead for a festival or celebration, with a marketing campaign that encompasses activities, decorations and other support elements.

“Our ideas for the campaign theme are either a predetermined concept by the management or based on a suggestion by H’ng,” he said.

“We strive to create a catchy and outstanding theme, and try not to replicate a theme that had been previously done by SWP or other shopping malls.

“Even if we have to borrow a theme that has been done before, we give it a fresh and contemporary spin to give it a new look.

“H’ng will draw up several visual merchandising options, and the management, which is open to good and creative ideas, will make their selection based on criteria like budget constraints and whether the concept translates well for the mall.”

If there is an overlap of festivals, Lim said the backdrop or main structure is retained while the smaller decorations are changed, which allows the mall some savings in terms of time and resources.

“Construction of the visual merchandising materials is done about one month before the festival, then assembled on site during after-mall hours to ensure shoppers’ safety and convenience,” he said.

“When not in use, the visual merchandising materials are stored in a warehouse in Sungai Buloh.”

Lim said Sungei Wang Plaza has an annual RM400,000 budget for visual merchandising, plus an additional RM100,000 for Christmas and Chinese New Year decorations respectively.

“The annual visual merchandising budget covers events like Hari Raya, Fashion Week, Mega Sale and Mooncake Festival,” he said.

“We also get sponsors to contribute financial and marketing support for certain festivals like Chinese New Year.”

Lim acknowledged that it is a conservative budget compared to the bigger malls, and noted that certain shopping malls practice a marketing fund collection where tenants contribute some money for the mall’s promotional activities.

“We try to recycle as much of the visual merchandising materials as possible, which translates to savings in terms of money and the environment,” he said.

“It is also a challenge for the designer to come up with new ideas and reuse existing materials.

“We give away buntings and promotional materials featured in character show events like Ultraman to fans who request for them, as that helps reduce storage space.”

Lim said H’ng’s beautiful work has garnered him an additional network of clients, like hotels, event management companies and even other shopping malls, who also engage him for visual merchandising projects after seeing his work at SWP.

“The key elements when it comes to brainstorming ideas for marketing campaigns are to understand the market well, plan ahead and be well prepared,” he said.

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