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Nation’s No. 2 mall owner turns to SMS for retail traffic

August 25, 2009

mallGeneral Growth Properties, the nation’s No. 2 mall owner, has introduced what it claims is the nation’s first national mall-based mobile advertising network.

Working with mobile marketing firm Mobisix, the troubled mall giant has extended its email-based The Club program to include The Club Mobile, an alerts service that relies on SMS. General Growth’s marquee properties include Water Tower Place in Chicago, Fashion Show at Tyson’s Galleria outside Washington and South Street Seaport in New York.

“This program is also unique in that it is driven by consumer-controlled preferences and data and analytics decisions to ensure consumers receive only the most relevant offers, and according to their opt-in rules they establish,” said Michael Foschetti, managing director of Mobisix, Charlotte, NC.

Consumers who sign up online with mobile number and other preference data at will receive discounts and offers via regularly scheduled text messages. Those who sign up stand a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree.

The goal of this loyalty program is to incentivize registered consumers and drive foot traffic to the more than 200 regional shopping malls with 24,000-plus retail stores that Chicago-based General Growth owns or manages in 44 states nationwide.

Mobisix’s messaging platform powers The Club Mobile, delivering targeted, personal offers based on consumer-controlled preferences, data and analytics.

Here is what Mr. Foschetti had to say about The Club Mobile and mobile’s growing potential in driving retail traffic during these tough economic times:  

What’s the thinking behind The Club Mobile?
The Club mobile is an innovative new-media platform for retail brands to target specific audiences with highly relevant messages and drive store traffic. 

In these economic times, the more innovative ways we can use technology to inform the consumer of events and sales while utilizing the club the better.

The Club is a strategic extension of General Growth’s email marketing platform, The Club, and offers the similar value to on-the-go consumers and consumers that prefer to receive opt-in messages to their mobile phones versus email.

Who is the target?
Early adopters of The Club Mobile cross all demographic groups and comprise age groups 13-65.

Both male and female audiences have expressed significant interest and are representative of our subscriber base. Retail brands across categories will express an interest in learning more about the database.

Can we be sure it’s the nation’s first mall-based mobile ad network?
There are several SMS services out there within the retail space, but none to our knowledge that were launched on a nationwide basis among so many malls all at once.

This program is also unique in that it is driven by consumer-controlled preferences and data and analytics decisions to ensure consumers receive only the most relevant offers, and according to their opt-in rules they establish.

This program is larger than just one brand. It is a media network that many brands can choose to participate in based upon their unique marketing needs from national to local.

Why text messages to mall-goers? Any research backing receptivity to such messages?
Retail has always strived to find channels to get one-on-one with customers.

It’s also an industry that stands to really benefit from strategic applications, and on a larger, more macro scale, of mobile marketing.

Getting an offer in the consumer’s hands in that last mile to the sale and getting them in-store is happening today across the mobile and retail spectrum, and in highly successful ways.

Many brands are seeing success with mobile, but in some cases just cannot grow their lists large enough to really move the needle.

The Club Mobile, for retail brands, will really complement the brands’ existing mobile marketing programs and add another layer of micro-targeted activity to the mix.

Significant research was tapped to gauge consumer receptivity to mobile marketing messages within retail, and as long as consumers are in control – how often they get messages, what types of messages they receive and easy opt-out process – very positive feedback was found.

The Mobile Marketing Association’s research indicates approximately one in 10 U.S. consumers are highly interested in mobile marketing, and that is underscored among youth audiences and related to offers and coupons. Both play strongly to General Growth’s program.

When will those who register to The Club Mobile get the text offers?
The maximum number of offers that a consumer will receive is eight per month, or two times per week.

Can mobile help mall retailers? What can mobile offer that other channels don’t?
Yes, we believe it can enhance retailers’ existing mobile marketing efforts and more.

Mobile provides a powerful and efficient one-on-one communication channel for retailers to reach a specified customer base.

Mobile experiences incredibly high open and read rates that result in significant response rates. It also enables retail brands to continue to adapt for efficient and green marketing practices – accountable to ROI and the environment.

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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