Retailtainment: the future of the industry?

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Retailtainment represented by a Legoland Discovery Centre in Berlin

A retail trends report from CBRE reveals how facility managers can invest in experience to ensure their retail destination remains appealing and engaging.

Retailtainment – the converge of retail, leisure and entertainment – is on the rise. Increasingly, retail facility managers, landlords and tenants are coming to recognise that experience, not product range, is what will being customers through the door if they want to remain competitive in an age of burgeoning ecommerce.

In its latest ViewPoint report, CBRE Research looks at six experience-related trades that are allowing retailers in the Asia Pacific region to increase footfall, engagement and sales. While they are undoubtedly significant investments, the presence of these premium entertainment features is sure to be a factor in determining which retail facilities will thrive in the future, and which will fall dormant.

Indoor theme parks

Catering to the whole family, indoor theme parks may inhabit 40,000 to 60,000 square feet of space, but they confirm the facilities they are part of as must-visit destinations for many. That’s especially the case in regions where constantly shifting weather conditions makes indoor entertainment a customer preference. Legoland Discovery Centres – operating in China, Japan and Australia – are an example of just how successful indoor theme parks can be. Each venue accommodates up to 600,000 visitors a year.


Already a feature of many Australian retail facilities, it’s the premiumisation of these popular destinations that is driving the most growth. VIP cinema experiences such as Village Cinemas’ Gold Class, or AMC Hong Kong’s Oval Office help to extend the entertainment beyond the cinema screen. Other features like Dolby Atmos, and 4D cinemas help to broaden the gap between home and cinema film-watching experiences.

Sports clubs

Potential customers are spoilt for choice when deciding which gym or yoga studio they want to sign up to. That’s why it’s so important for retailers to use their space to offer activities customers can’t say no to. Take CapitaLand’s Funan Mall in Singapore, where a 200 metre indoor cycling path created buzz when it opened in June. There’s also SpoCha in Japan, a chain of clubs that host everything from archery to dodgeball in a single location.

Children’s edutainment centres

Smaller than an indoor theme park, and appealing to parents and guardians who want to spend some time shopping alone, children’s edutainment centres provide learning experiences with a twist. The leaders in this space are KidZania, an international chain that offers children the chance to role-play in various careers across a scaled-down replica of a real city. Whether playing a firefighter or a cashier at McDonald’s, visitors learn crucial life skills in a fun environment.

Game arcades and eSports

The classic arcade may be a thing of the past, but Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences are still in their infancy. Retailers who get in early are sure to reap the results. What’s more, the nature of the technology means large-scale games can be played in small-scale environments. The same goes for eSports venues. Catering for professional gamers, locations such as Jaya Shopping Centre’s Battle Arena allow whole teams of players to train and compete in a single setting.


Facility managers can enhance the lifestyle component of their spaces by providing studios for internal and external parties to hold workshops and classes across a range of disciplines. Originating in Japan, ABC Cooking Studio is a family-friendly destination for visitors to try out their culinary skills in a social environment. The opportunities a studio provides are limitless.

No matter how retail professionals choose to implement retailtainment offerings, CBRE Research suggests five tips that apply to all:

  • Place experience at the core of your tenant mix
  • Brand your properties as retailtainment hubs rather than shopping malls
  • Leverage consumer analytics tools to obtain deeper insights into spending and lifestyle patterns
  • Tailor products and services to suit consumer demand for entertaining and personalising experiences
  • Consider retailtainment opportunities early to design and configure retail space appropriately


To read CBRE Research’s Retailtainment 2.0: Investing in Experience report in full, click here.


Image: Legoland Discovery Centre in Berlin, 123RF’s Natasha Walton ©

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