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Creating a new brand at Quartier Bleu, Hasselt, Belgium

The Challenge 

We were tasked to develop a successful placemaking & marketing strategy for a brand new shopping centre in Belgium – Quartier Bleu. Toolbox wanted to position Quartier Bleu as a strong community spirit, welcoming all. Quartier Bleu is much more than a shopping centre with residents. Quartier Bleu is an experience, a hotspot, the place to be.

The Solution 

We undertook a SWOT analysis of retail hierarchy, core catchment, socio-economic profiles, competition, tenant positioning & differentiation and carried out various focus groups. Using our findings we were able to start building a B2B & B2C brand story and strategy working with the city’s destination management for regional promotion; providing a placemaking strategy that covered: • Media management • Placemaking and launch series of campaigns and events • Social Media strategy and activation • Digital management of website • Retailer communication & coordination • Addressing all aspects of the new Customer Journey • Stakeholder engagement • Pre-launch activity raising expectation

The How:

After spending time in a new city in a new culture with various stakeholders, we got to work completing the SWOT analysis, refreshing the corporate logo to make it consumer-friendly, and running focus groups to really understand our future audience. The brand story and marketing strategy development led to the placemaking and pre-launch build-up campaigns from January 2020.

Placemaking activity – 500 blue roses, coffee cups with vouchers, and reusable shopping bags were handed out to the core catchment on Saturday leading up to the opening, getting brand in hand building up to the opening weekend Digital engagement Our digital channels started talking about the reasons to visit Quartier Bleu from January 2020, revealing exclusive information weekly, then daily as the launch got closer. The positive sentiment towards the scheme sat at around 40% due to lack of awareness and locals thinking that the site was just residential. Over a 2 month period we changed the positive sentiment to around 75% with anticipation and conversations building around the opening weekend and line up of launch events and offers.

Make it Measurable 

Then we were forced to stop our placemaking initiatives and postpone our 4-day opening weekend line up due to the global pandemic, so we went digital …

1) Top of mind Digital messaging and interaction to continue online conversations, highlighting future reasons to visit Quartier Bleu. Our SoMe engagement campaigns attracted over 5,000 engagements in 3 weeks with a reach of over 30,000.

2) Shop opening When the shopping restrictions were lifted, we ran digital advertising campaigns targeted at our core audience within a 20-minute drive. The tenants that opened exceeded their (post lockdown) sales targets for their opening week, with one tenant only down 4% YOU despite the restrictions and a change of location from the city centre. Website traffic went through the roof.

3) Restaurant opening Restaurants were allowed to open their doors on the 8th of June and we ran another digital advertising campaign, this time with a wider catchment. Restaurant reservations we almost at capacity, and the dining terraces by the quayside were well visited with people socialising post lockdown. Conversations began with ‘Meet me at Quartier Bleu

4) Influencer marketing We handpicked 5 fashion and 5 food-based influencers from our targeted catchment areas. Instagram statistics saw a 344% increase in impression and a 88% increase in engagements over the 4 weeks in which influencers were visiting Quartier Bleu, demonstrating the power of influencers in the retail and restaurant industries.

What’s next? Summer campaigns focussing on staycations in Belgium and getting that’ abroad’ feeling without leaving the country. A branded Fiat 500 driving around the core catchment to drive awareness. Further influencer partnerships. A digital, print and OOH targeted media campaign. Oh, and a TV show!