Shopping Centres are becoming closer to the local area and the needs of citizens. This choice is underpinned by the active participation of local citizens and the use of historic names that characterise territorial identity.
Ceetrus launches a branding operation for one of the biggest projects set to unfold in the municipality of Milan, at Arexpo in Cascina Merlata, the first urban smart district of the fashion capital and in the city’s most evolved mixed-development area. In view of the shopping centre’s completion, scheduled for 2021, Ceetrus launched a co-construction bottom-up project of the new brand. The involvement of local citizens was decisive and shaped the outcome. Thanks to a digital platform rolled out across social media, users were able to preview the special features of the new retail and leisure offering, express their expectations on contents and services, and vote on the name.
The project involved over 1000 residents in the catchment area, mostly 20 to 50 year old office workers and freelancers, who expressed their opinions and future expectations of the project: 35% of respondents declared they would be very interested in having a wide selection of bars and restaurants open during their lunch break and leisure time. 31% of those interviewed would like a latest generation multiplex, complete with comfortable common spaces; 30% believed that indoor and outdoor sports facilities would be important and lastly, with reference to the shopping experience, the majority expressed their demand for renowned international chains; however it is equally interesting to note that 38% appreciate experiential stores linked to the hi-tech world and 32% would like to see stores with quality artisan products.
One thing everyone agreed on was the name Merlata Bloom Milano, endorsed by an over whelming majority. A name containing the word “Bloom”,expressing the true essence of this new project: a centre that “blooms”,designed as a tribute to eco-sustainability and to be completed by the surrounding environment to the point that it becomes its natural extension.
A host of innovative solutions have been implemented, starting from greenery,which seamlessly extends from the Cascina Merlata Park to the mall. There are also interior gardens, terraces, urban kitchen gardens and bioclimatic greenhouses. Nature is the inspiring muse of this project which affirms its vocation as a green and smart place of life: a living centre open to the flow of people and ideas.
The company has recently launched an ambitious five-year plan worth 2.5 billion euros for the renewal of urban areas, the development of office and residential properties and the expansion of existing commercial sites. 325 million euros have been invested into Merlata and155 million euros have been allocated for Turin.
Merlata Bloom Milano represents the future, however Ceetrus has also renewed its attention towards consolidated centres, in terms of the name and identity of sites. An ongoing rebranding operation was first implemented on occasion of the Auchan exit and involving a number of centres. Local citizens of each site were proactive in the naming selection.
Users were able to express their preferences and vote on the new name of the centre on social media; there was an overwhelming preference for names historically in use or symbols close to the heart of the territory, as was the case for Centro Cagliari Santa Gilla renamed “I Fenicotteri” by local users, a tribute to the area which is home to one of Europe’s vastest and most important sites of natural interest, a habitat of pink flamingos.
The users of the Grottammare Centre expressed a desire to return to the previous name, “L’Orologio”. This is also the case for the Senigallia shopping centre, which has reclaimed its former name, “Il Molino”, as well as the one of Porto S. Elpidio, which is to be renamed “Le Ancore”. This renaming trend, linked to the cultural roots of the surrounding area, also extended to the centre of Mazzano, which is to berenamed “Molinetto” and the one of Monza, which will become “Rondò dei Pini”.
In other cases the choice of a new name tied in closer with territorial identity,inspired by references to geographic position and conformation: “Adda Center” identifies the Merate gallery and “Olbia Mare” for theOlbia-based centre, “Porte di Milano” in Cesano Boscone, “Porte di Sassari” in Sassari, “Porte di Pompei” in Pompei, “Grande Sud”in Giuliano.
Marco Balducci, General Manager of Ceetrus Italy explains: “Over the years we have concentrated our efforts on transforming Shopping Centres according to the evolution of urban spaces, in response to the needs of citizens. The new guiding philosophy of Ceetrus focuses on building and animating living spaces where homes, offices, services, hospitality facilities, urban infrastructures, leisure, entertainment, culture and healthcare centres align with changes in the habits and lifestyles of users.” Mr. Balducci adds that “If Shopping Centres will prove capable of focusing on innovation and the integration of physical and digital experience, they will continue to play a fundamental role in developing the retail offering. We are reassured by the fact that in spite of the difficulties encountered during this period, there has been a positive trend, with a 15% increase in entries inAugust compared to the previous months.” Marco Balducci declares that “Ceetrus is increasingly oriented towards the development of innovative and sustainable projects for the creation of new jobs and contributing towards designing people-oriented cities of the future.”
Mr.Balducci concludes by stating that “Defining the brand identity of a shopping centre starting from a truly representative and evocative name is an essential pre requisite of customer relations,enabling the clear communication of positioning, characters and promises of the new offering. Added value, namely the possibility to nurture intimacy between a brand and its customers, is achievable through the active participation of local citizens in defining the very identity of the centre,aligning with the tastes and preferences of customers, or using names that are historically renowned and significant for the territory. This type of involvement ties in perfectly with the Ceetrus claim “With Citizens ForCitizens”, a promise that encourages and nourishes all initiatives and company projects, at all levels.”