PYMNTS Intelligence Alternate Banner June 2024

Mall of America: Consumers Want Social Media to Inform Shopping Experiences

Mall of America

From influencer pop-ups to store openings for TikTok-famous brands, malls are taking the social media shopping experience to brick-and-mortar locations to reach young consumers.

Jill Renslow, chief business development and marketing officer at Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex on the continent, explained to PYMNTS how the mall is using social media to keep the on-site experience fresh.

“We really follow a lot of different social media trends to see what customers want and who they’re following,” Renslow said. “…A lot of the talent that we bring to Mall of America, they come because of the fantastic exposure that they can get at the mall when we have thousands of people that come through our doors every single day. They know that they’ll build and connect with their fans in a much different way than they can do online or even at a concert.”

The mall hosts influencer pop-ups such as meet-and-greets and performances that allow public figures to “create content for social and for traditional media” without having to draw a crowd of thousands as they may have to at, say, one of their stadium show dates, she said. Musical artist and actress Olivia Rodrigo, for instance, did a pop-up event with an accompanying retail component.

These moves come as young consumers seek shopping inspiration on social media, per supplemental research from the PYMNTS Intelligence report “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Monetizing Social Media.” The survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers indicated that 68% of Generation Z consumers searched for products on social media, with 22% making purchases. This represents the highest rate of social media shopping among all generations.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of Gen Z consumers intend to shop via social media, in contrast to less than half of the overall sample. The study also found that over 40% of Gen Z consumers prefer using Instagram or TikTok to discover brands instead of Google.

Additional research on younger consumers’ engagement with social media as a point of inspiration for shopping revealed that Gen Z tends to favor TikTok for fashion inspiration, whereas millennials prefer Instagram.

As these younger shoppers look to social channels for inspiration, Mall of America is considering these trends not only in its events but also in the stores it offers, having opened a store for viral clothing brand Edikted in April. The brand’s customers, Renslow said, will be “excited to be able to shop” in person with a company that previously they could only access digitally.

She noted that the mall’s social team both tracks overall retail trends and engages the mall’s following to get a sense of what they are satisfied with and what their pain points are. The desire to bring brands that are popular online into physical spaces continues to inform the mall’s leasing strategy going forward.

“We want to have first to market,” Renslow said. “We want to have the digital brands that come to brick-and-mortar because that’s what consumers are looking for.”

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