I read with interest today’s article in the Manchester Evening News on Manchester’s tale of two shopping cities

The 2 destinations, for anybody who is yet to read the full article, are the Northern Quarter and The Avenue in Spinningfields

Open the article and have a look at the full article before reading ahead –

For those that know us well and have been involved with Altrincham HQ from the start, the reason we set up Altrincham HQ as a community focused Social Media business was seeing how proactive Northern Quarter and Chorlton based businesses were with Social Media and Marketing in general. And then looking at the traditional or inactive marketing locally

At the time I was running a 15,000 capacity arts and music festival in Manchester’s Northern Quarter called Hungry Pigeon Festival and it doesn’t surprise me at all that the area is now seen as a great blueprint for many of our smaller towns in the UK. Independence and a great community spirit are key drivers in regeneration

On the other side of this tale of 2 cities you have Spinningfields as the “upmarket ghetto” as the article describes.

Altrincham HQ visited the area for the first time in ages last week and it’s the first time we were aware of the Avenue, the retail aspect of Spinningfields, existing.

The general tone of the article suggests the area needs marketing more effectively as a shopping destination and we agree, but there’s the underlying tone of defeatism with the businesses featured

Colin Richards is manager at menswear store Oliver Sweeney claims “There needs to be more marketing so that people know it is here”

Yet a 2 minute twitter search for the brand reveals they have not exactly been proactive themselves. The main national brand twitter handle @OliverSweeney is active if not massively engaging whereas the Manchester specific account @SweeneyManc hasn’t tweeted since an initial intro in Dec 2011

Neil Smith is the manager of Philip Stoner Jewellers on the Avenue adds “We are a bit isolated and I think the problem is that a lot of people don’t know we are here. We need more marketing to put us on the map, more signage, more links with the city centre”

Their twitter account @PhillipStoner last tweeted on the 21st March (13 days ago)

On the other hand the retail aspect of Spinningfields @AvenueThe has over 2500 followers and @Spinningfields over 15,000 followers – which admittedly does focus somewhat on the events aspects of the area rather than the retail and individual business

Small towns at times can suffer the same problems as well – the waiting for the marketing to come to you. The expectation that somebody else will do all the marketing for you

Look at the businesses that are doing well locally. 6 out of 10 retail customers that walk through Trevor Holt (@trevor_holt ) door are from twitter. Phanthong opened a restaurant less than a year ago and are already ranked the number 1 restaurant on Tripadvisor. More recently Kings Cafe in the Kings Court area of Altrincham have used to twitter to get word out about their business which is off the beaten track

Nobody will care about your business more than you – so market market market both offline and online, the business that are doing well are the ones that are effectively marketing

Look at our Social Media for Retail Information here



5 responses to “Manchester: A Tale of Two Shopping Cities & Being A Proactive Marketer”

  1. Avatar Ruth Wilson says:

    True. If consumers are making the effort into Manchester rather than shop online then they are going in for a few hours and are looking for an experience as well as to shop. Something else needs to be offered to tempt people to your patch and if you haven’t got the plethora of shops Market Street has, then offer something else. Spinningfields has a lot to offer and has been great at organising activities around big events but I was there on Saturday and it was pretty quiet. Retailers should look into cross marketing activity with shops, cafes and bars in other areas of the city to draw people in, and offer incentives through social and traditional media. A little effort can go a long way. Independent traders in Chorlton and the Northern Quarter HAVE to be creative. Larger chains have the safety net / approval process of head office, both of which are no doubt restricting.

  2. Avatar historyme says:

    Many factors are affecting the high street: economic climate, high rents, out-of-town shopping, supermarkets etc. However, I think the biggest one is the internet, but rather than be the nemesis of the high street, I believe it could indeed be its saviour.

    We are gregarious and so shopping is a part of that. So I don’t think that will ever end, but the unprecedented growth of the internet, in particular social media and more recently e-commerce and m-commerce is reshaping how we engage with businesses and purchase products. The change is being driven from the bottom up and businesses are being forced by the consumer to change or literally die.

    From a retailers perspective the sheer amount of information on potentially limitless numbers of consumers is a asset which they need to exploit. Equally digitisation has created virtual limitless shelf space, bypassing traditional need for expensive floor space.

    Social media and commerce over the Internet can reduce costs, find and engage new and established consumers, limitless shelf space, provide better consumer service. Promote their brand and products effectively and quickly. Answer any queries quickly and swiftly. Track consumer and market trends. The list literally is endless and yet so many smaller businesses in particular those employing less than 10 people are no taking advantages of the technologies available.

  3. I think that the offer is completely different and therefore attracts a different audience. Everyone has to eat so Spinningfields focus on footfall, getting people socialising etc and the shops are almost an afterthought. You would have to have a higher budget to shop on The Avenue and the area isn’t geared to treat those high end shoppers as they might expect to be treated! For example, a concierge service, valet parking, making it worthwhile for them. Tie in with other businesses targeting a similar audience profile. Positioning is key – you are never going to attract the masses and nurture future customers like the high street, the area screams wealth and you wouldn’t go and browse on the Avenue unless you had some intent on purchase, or you may just go to a specific shop. The Northern Quarter on the other hand has the community feel – attracts a whole range of shoppers regardless of income level, status etc because there really is something for everyone and it is an all-round experience. I used to go to Afflecks Palace some 20 years ago in my teens and loved the whole NQ scene, still do! That said, I agree that retailers need to take responsibility for their own marketing. Too many people buy into location and adopt the “open the doors and they’ll come” mentality.

  4. Avatar Nick Smith says:

    Such shopping areas highlighted are those with USPs. I remember Affleck’s Palace and you cannot get the same type of business on your ‘average’ high street or shopping mall. It is this that such promotion advertising on Twitter and Facebook can highlight inexpensively – and this creates word of mouth, which, having worked in advertising, is the best form of advertising.

  5. I don’t think Manchester is big enough for retail in Spinningfields. It may have stood a chance in the credit fuelled noughties when I guess it was conceived, but not now. It’s primarily a business district and a retail analogy would be to an airport. I would imagine the thrust for its development came from the property investors.

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