People first not customers

Author: Ibrahim Ibrahim

Categories: Customer Engagement
Tags: Highline Park, Portland Design Associates Ltd
Ibrahim Ibrahim: "The further you go with technology begins to encroach on societal changes.  I think it’s transcends retail.  I think I wear two hats, I wear my hat as a retail consultant.  And I’m an advocate of consumers, an advocate of brands and then my clients and I understand the importance for them, of the commercialisation, of anything and everywhere, to increase connectedness, increase engagement and increase footfall and increase sales.  But also we do a lot of inner city regeneration and we did Elephant and Castle, we did a lot of strategy around the regeneration of Elephant and Castle.  And we’ve got this mantra in our business which says citizen first, you have a duty of care for people as citizens, not as customers.  And I think too many brands take people for granted as customers, as though whenever they’re walking down the street they’re only looking to buy stuff.  And I think retailers and brands have got to first of all grasp the idea that their customers are not necessarily wanting to buy things.  They’re citizens actually, they’re not their customers, they don’t own them.  And the problem is that when you’re in a shopping centre you’re in a private environment, that’s purporting to be public. And this idea of how much does commercialisation make public space private is for me a really, really quite provocative and I’ve forgot the word but it provokes a lot of contradictions from me as working for retailers and me having this. I’m talking at a personal level, this passion for keeping public space public and not commercialising every last minute of our day.  The sanctity of public space and I reference Highline Park in New York which is a disused railway that’s turned into a public park, that isn’t commercial at all and it’s the second most visited attraction in New York, and it has not one piece of commerciality, at least when I was there it didn’t.  It might have had more recently, but maybe just a coffee shop but nothing, it’s just a beautiful place to be.  And that’s what I was talking about, we talked about the experienced economy where citizens now want places to be, to do, to appropriate to do what they want to do and not it be run, overrun by commercialisation."
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