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Public Engagement in Experiential Futures



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As real estate prices and studio spaces become more expensive and harder to find in the city, artists may begin migrating out into the suburbs. This might pose as an opportunity to help boost the renewal of neighbourhoods as artists have had a history of being catalysts to the renewal of urban cores for many cities. There is evidence collected that urban renewal through the arts encourages cultural tourism and subsequent economic growth. Revitalization through the arts and culture has also been able to give new meaning to decaying and low-profit urban infrastructure.

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Providing access to local shopping centres by public transportation or high quality pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is now an important consideration for successful retail projects. The city of Mississauga plans on expanding transit services to areas that have achieved, or will be planned to achieve, transit supportive residential and employment densities, together with a mix of residential, office, institutional and commercial development, wherever possible.

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Partnership with institutions or government (i.e. libraries, recreation facilities, community centres, etc.) as a means of attracting reliable and long term anchor tenants that drive visitation to other retailers, or directly serve the surrounding community. Examples include suburban malls integrating civic services like a public library, a municipal services, and immigration services.

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Omni-channel retailing is on the rise: the use of a variety of elements to shape a customer’s shopping experience, including bricks and mortar stores, online shopping, mobile apps and telephone sales.

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A combination of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Quantified Self (QS), the Internet of Self (IoS) describes a system that involves the harvesting data from bodily functions through biometric sensors, which then automatically analyzes the data to command IoT objects in everyday life. As such, the physical human body controls the human environment without the need for conscious decision-making.

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Consumer surveys are showing a general trend towards consumers placing more importance on experiences than possessions, which is particularly evident amongst the millennial demographic. In particular, social media presence and a “fear of missing out” are drivers for millennials’ preference towards experiential purchases over material possessions. This trend has caused retailers such as Macy’s to adopt experience-based models to drive consumer purchases, such as incorporating mini-concerts, yoga classes, and cafes into the retail environment. Psychology studies reinforce this trend to show that purchasing experiences tend to be more rewarding, and that there is a correlation with increased happiness.

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Increased global connectedness is generating opposition in the form of localisation, as people try to assert their own identity. Forced to think about how to run global businesses that are also localised, global retailers (e.g. Uniqlo, Lululemon and Nike) are activating communities through local engagement strategies like the creation of local hubs and cultural programming, “superhero” ambassadors, and neighbourhood run clubs. These strategies shift from traditional merchandise standardization to embracing decentralized leadership, and recognizing the need to be good at understanding other cultures, while still being mindful of protecting brand equity and economies of scale.

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In the wake of anchor big-box stores leaving shopping malls comes the emergence of a new type of attractor: anchor communities. As some shopping malls explore the different ways they can repurpose themselves beyond retail, they are beginning to attract the communities that come with those new spaces. Such include the communities that belong to churches, sports clubs, cultural networks and the creative arts.

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Retail workers are at risk of losing their jobs to robots and other automation technology. Automation services that are disrupting retail employment can range from tablets where customers can check out without the help of a cashier to more complicated technologies that can interact with customers in stores and help them find the items they need.

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Improvements to the customer experience, increased retail options, and faster shipping has made online shopping more appealing. Customers are now buying more things from the comfort of their homes than in person at brick and mortar stores. Grocery shopping may be the last holdout. At the moment, the majority of people still want to push a cart down the aisle, choosing items for their family, but that is changing as well.

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