Branded Mall Concept – will it click?


Airtel has been instrumental with their marketing strategies right from the start. Infact, recently in the recent issue of 4Ps magazine, Airtel was named to have to most brand awareness in India.

top 10 brands in India

source: 4Ps Magazine

Be it the print media or the the Idiot Box, Airtel is right up there when it comes to generating buzz and showcasing its product in the best way there is. But with the telecom space heating up and the customer having a plethora of choices, how could Airtel ensure a dedicated un-wavering focus of the customer from their product?

One probable solution- Do not leave any space for the competitor to showcase its product !

This might seem insane to implement at first, but this is exactly what Airtel has managed to do. In July, Airtel logo’s adorned the walls of an existing mall in Hyderabad , RK Cineplex.

What was unique is the fact that there were no other brand logos fighting for real estate space. Infact, even the name of the mall was changed to Airtel RK Cineplex. This gave to what is the country’s first branded mall. Take that for garnering the maximum eyeballs!

The details of the deal are too few but according to the statement by Manoj Kohli, CEO in the BT article, this is a well thought out strategic move to increase its visibility among the masses. As for the mall owner, this sure looks like a sweet deal. There are no details on how much Airtel would have coughed up for this exclusive deal, but I am sure that the money would have been more than enough given the dire straits the existing malls are in.

But, is this exercise by Airtel worth its money and can it deliver enough returns? The idea is rather new so it is difficult to gauge the ROI based on existing examples.


A few good things for Airtel,

  • Airtel gets to brand all the common areas in the mall. No chance of the product going unnoticed.
  • One stop shop for all Airtel products be it the mobile, broadband and digital TV. It will make life easier for a brand Shopper.
  • Clear tracking on the returns of the marketing campaign. Can help them gauge what kind of promotion/display are working since there are no other players.
  • Coupled with its diversified product range bundled with varied pricing, it might be able to attract all kinds of mall visitors into their product

However there also seems to be other side of the coin, atleast thats what I feel, here is what I think:

The exclusivity price that Airtel pays is going to be dependent on footfalls among other things. People in general prefer malls for the options they provide. Moreover, malls are always ripe for tempting discounts that are offered. So, when people come to malls, there is a certain tendency to look out for the "best bang for the buck".

But with the Airtel branding strewn all around, that’s all the customer is going to notice. Don’t you think that could be a deterrent of sorts which could in fact lead to a decrease in footfalls.

An Airtel product according to me would never attract one of the biggest shoppers segment (KIDS). Indirectly, they are the ones whose eyeballs convert to sales on most counts given the product is visually simulating to them. I have my doubts if a BlackBerry banner would catch a kid’s attention.

Now, it is no brainer that a number of kids drive their parents to malls and even families prefer malls for the reason that there is something for everyone.But, if all the kid sees is Airtel around, would he be willing to go to the mall again. Now, thats just one hypothetical example which could lead to a drop in the revenue that the mall is going to make from the Airtel single branding. Even with a relatively generic audience, a single brand exhibit does not seem like a crowd puller. Moreover, with the brand Airtel showcased in bold, will the other vendors feel a little at loss setting shops in the mall.

The idea of a branded mall seems quite unique and interesting, but is the Indian Consumer ready for it?

What do you think? Do you think a branded mall is an outright winner for both the brand and the mall owner or is it otherwise?

[This post is written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]

  1. […] have been at the forefront of ad-wars with each brand going out of their way to come up with a innovative themed ad campaign. No doubt, they spend a fortune paying the creative ad creators like O & M […]

  2. Vivek says

    Hi I am Vivek from Sodexo. The Initiative taken will be done in mass branding. what if need to be targeted only Taxpayers who have good money to spend. There is one more tool which reaches to wright target ordinance.

  3. shailesh sharma says

    yeah……….i too am of the firm view that the mall culture is going to thrive in the days to come and yes it will stupenduously change the current scenario of the Indian brands and as rightly said by one of my friends above the other brands will soon follow the same and benefit from it too.

  4. Ankit says


    Interesting take!! But, this move by Airtel may not be tele centric one i guess.Tele density has been reaching a saturation atleast in the urban population.Moreover, with tarriffs becoming cheaper, the exercise may not sound right.

    What Airtel might be targetting is to ensure that all the products under the Airtel umbrella are showcased and the market share of those products increased.DTH is one area which Airtel will be gunning to dominate.

  5. Ankit says

    Thanks everyone for putting across their views.Could not get to them earlier since the internet was down.

    @keshava the idea is definetely bright.With everything seemigly right and the point u mentioned bout setting up a shop there.My question would be ” dont u think ur shop will get marred down by the pompous display of airtel around” Just hope that Airtel keeps it all exciting and helps increase footfalls.

    @Arun thanks for chippin in :)

  6. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Mall branding is the logical extension of the program branding which we already see on TV. There are things like IDEA super singer, or close-up Antakhshari or what have you.

    Airtel took this a little further and gave it a more permenant structure. Airtel mall or Vodafone mall – that sounds cool.

    My question would be, branding in a cities with tele-density inching towards 100%. Is that what Airtel really wants? Wouldn’t Airtel be better-off by spending that money elsewhere?

  7. abhishek jaiminee says

    i think this is new idea in avertisement. Airtel is most repected brand name in india. in india mall culture is growing fast. new mall is opening in each and every city in India. so this is good strategy

  8. Arun Prabhudesai says

    @keshava you are right. Not only that I think, like Ankit said, it will carry out promotional events out there, the mall will get mileage in the Ads that Airtel releases etc etc, which will be a win win situation for both the malls as well as Airtel..

    I am pretty sure that other brands will soon follow suite..

  9. Keshava Ram says

    Interesting Initiative, the initiative by itself would get wide coverage in various media for its uniqueness. The awareness and image that Airtel and the Mall would get this way is more than that it will get when someone visits the mall. The mall is also an important landmark in the city and this will create awareness to almost everyone in the city who gets into that area.
    As far as kids are concerned, it is important for shop keepers to keep products that a typical Airtel consumer would buy. E.g. The mall should have a Consumer Durable shop, where a Airtel DTH consumer can buy a new TV.
    If I were to rent space in that mall, I will be delighted as Airtel would work hard to get footfalls in the mall. Some of the image created by Airtel would get transferred to my shop also.

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