Welcoem to GC 2

#researchmeetsretail A new twist on qualitative retail research

We were approached by Grand Central to evaluate their forthcoming launch materials. We took a total of 16 consumers on a behind the scenes tour of the new Grand Central shopping centre as part of a unique research project we have recently undertaken.

The  focus group conversation started broad with the respondents’ perceptions of Birmingham and, in particular, its current retail and leisure offering. We found the participants were very proud of our city, describing it as ‘up and coming’ and ‘vibrant’.

The group then moved onto discuss the New Street and Grand Central development. Awareness of the New Street train station development was found to be high (you can’t exactly miss it if you are a frequent user of the station!) but awareness of the Grand Central shopping centre offer was quite low amongst those we spoke to. The exception was the new John Lewis which everyone was already aware of and felt extremely excited about.

We then moved onto discussing the launch advertising to be used for the new shopping centre, and invited the groups to share their thoughts about what they hoped or expected to be inside. The proposed launch materials were passed around the group for a detailed evaluation which prompted a  range of reactions and emotions which have provided Grand Central with an array of  insight.

It was really interesting to see just how different reactions to launch adverts can be. The exercises throughout the groups also proved very useful and really engaged the respondents into thinking specifically about the colour palette, use of text, use of imagery, the overall message etc. within each advert.

Then came the  unique twist to the research project. As a thank you to the respondents for taking part in the research, we  arranged to take them on an exclusive tour to see the development of the shopping centre with their own eyes. Naturally, doing this before the groups may have influenced how they reacted to the focus group materials.

I watched the room transform into a canvas of orange as the respondents put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) gear. I don’t think it quite hit them until then that they were about to enter a multi-million pound shopping centre building site! 

Grand Central market research focus group

The operations manager Warren showed us around and assured us of his confidence that the site would be ready for its planned opening date of September 24th.  Once inside we could see signs for a number of retailers including; Mac, Kiel’s & Neal’s Yard. Around the opposite side of the main atrium was a huge area where restaurants including; Giraffe, Pho and Tapas Revolution will all operate.

There will be a direct link into the Bullring from this area of the new Grand Central development, connecting the two major retail offers. The new shopping centre will offer a unique meeting, eating and shopping experience for people travelling through New Street and will introduce new brands into Birmingham including Frizzenti, Joules and the bakery Paul.

The most impressive part of the tour was the vast size of the shopping centre and, in particular, the height afforded by the new roof. The material of the roof is made from the same material as the Eden project and brought in a stunning volume of light which will even manage to brighten up the platforms of the station, 4 floors below. 

Grand Central focus group tour

When we made it back to the Management Suites we asked the respondents to share some feedback on their time with us. I had some really positive feedback from both of the groups and I think it’s fair to say that as far as incentives go, the tour was a hit!

By Lauren Harris, Research Executive 

This entry was posted in B2C, tagged Consumer, Shopping, Birmingham city centre, Focus Group, Retail and posted on September 4, 2015

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