Future Mall Anchors

As shopping malls diversify their offer to be less reliant on retail & introduce new experiences that cater to the wider lifestyle needs of their customer; new non-traditional anchors are coming to the forefront. 

By reducing the retail tenancy mix & increasing the cultural, entertainment & education offer, new exciting mall landscapes are forming. This new landscape is one driven by purpose, entertainment and connection. Connection to people and online. 

With this new-found landscape, the shopping mall anchors are changing in unexpected ways, that will support connections to the future consumer.


Catalyst of Shifts

What is driving the future anchors?

Purpose Driven Spaces 

Big businesses are realising they need to have a more responsible ethical and sustainable approach to how they do business. More and more businesses are investing in their purpose and the causes they support to ensure they align with the people they serve. We are seeing this across all business, especially retail where the desired consumer is younger and more purpose-driven than ever before.

Digital Native Anchors

Digital first businesses are changing the face of the high-street. They’re the ones innovating and doing things differently because they’re starting with a blank piece of paper. They’re the potential anchors of the future and we need to be giving them the opportunity to dip their toe into new markets and giving energy and innovation to the shopping experience. 


Gaming and gamification of spaces is a fast-growing sector. We have had the buzz of AR apps like Pokemon but new technologies and playful spaces are changing entertainment and opening up opportunities for new exciting ways to anchor high-streets and shopping malls. 

Purpose Driven Spaces 

Give meaning to your experience and connection

NikeLab, Chicago 

The new NikeLab space is built around community. The Re-Creation studio offers the local creative community the opportunity to get mentorship and masterclasses from some of the world’s leading creatives. The store itself is made from sustainable materials, with places for talks and workshops as well as a worn-out sole workshop where you can recycle your sneakers into Nike Grind. 

29 Rooms, Chicago 

Experiences created by artists and brands with a cause, was imagined by the NYC publication Refinery 29. These experiences give their readers the chance to not only support their cause but experience them in multi-sensory ways. 29 Rooms has been activated across the US running for a month at a time with huge popularity with young people. Now looking to expand into new territories. 


Businesses are evolving and realising that being a brand that is solely profits driven, and not purpose driven, is not sustainable. Being purpose driven builds a longer-term relationship with customers and gives meaning to the products and experiences created. 

We are seeing brands connecting with causes, supporting the arts and building experiences that connect with their tribe’s beliefs. 

Digital Native Anchors 

Connecting online to offline and adding excitement to the mix

Neighbourhood Goods, New York

I love this brand and how they're challenging what high-street retail is, how it turns up in our lives and as part of our communities. The store is ever changing with talks, new to market brands and experiences. We are seeing places like Neighbourhood Goods reimagining the department store with their latest offerings in NYC. They're delivering lifestyle experiences that aim to tap into local communities and delivering relevant and connected product storytelling, whilst building a strong sustainable proposition with minimal inventory and maximum impact for customers and brands.

The Conservatory, New York 

This online focused store is all about face to face experience. You can’t sign-up to the online store till you’ve been in to see them in the physical store. They have exclusive collections, talks and events that only their customers can come and experience. 


Online retail has changed the game for everyone. There was a belief that closing stores was the safest strategy to survive but we are finding we need to have an ecosystem that includes both. Hudson Yard, NYC, have set up their proposition to have more flex in contracts and maximise the floor that the digital native brands live “Floor of Discovery” as a marketing tool and draw for younger consumers. 

Emaar Malls, Dubai, are set up slightly different giving space for 30 new to market brands, mostly exciting online brands that can pop-up rent free. In return, they share their data and the mall gets a better understanding of the younger visitors. 

Macerich are also trying to support Digital Native brands with their easy to land and easy to set up retail units, Brand Box. This isn’t going to fill the massive 10,000sqft of a retailer but it is making malls relevant and exciting. 


Connecting to Gen Z with experiential eSports

Razer, London

One of the fastest growing gaming technology brands has shown ambitious intentions in its retail strategy to open in multiple locations. With the most recent permanent experience stores opening in Hong Kong, Vegas and now London. Gaming and the worlds built around it are an exciting new proposition for malls and the highstreets. 

RedBull Gaming, London

This pop-up experience in Shoreditch ran recently this year with gamers going head to head in the RedBull gaming arena. Visitors could meet their heroes and other gamers as well as purchase exclusive products which were only on sale in the physical experience. 


In the UK alone, there are 37.3 million gamers in a market worth £5.7bn in 2018; globally, around 2.5 billion gamers and a market value forecast to hit $152.1bn by the end of 2019 and $196bn in 2022. 

There has been huge investment across Asia and in the US into Esports arenas and esports brands. With the rise of gaming and gaming as a spectator sport for young people we see this will be the future magnet to shopping malls for the younger generation.  

Building a strong retail and food proposition around these anchors will give malls something new and exciting for people to experience and be part of. 


Final Thoughts

There is an exciting new world of retailers, experiences and brands doing things differently for this ever-changing world we live in. 

The anchors of the future are going to be more colourful, energetic and connected than ever before. 

We are supporting businesses across multiple sectors, helping them understand their experience strategy, thinking creatively how all of these parts of their brand world fit together, trying to understand who the future visitor will be and what purpose they align to to drive it all. We look forward to further collaboration and delivering more and more experiences that truly connect to their future customers.

If you want to connect to your consumer, create a pioneering experience strategy and reimagine your brand world then get in touch!