It looks like a mall. It smells like a mall. It feels like a mall “ but don't tell the marketing team at Sydney's new Westfield Bondi Junction “ they're selling 'a different kind of shopping experience' where shopping is 'something fun, inspiring, empowering and fresh'.
Step inside. What's to tell you that you're having this empowering shopping experience in Bondi, and not one of the 115 other Westfield malls around the world? There's Sydney harbour to be glimpsed through the expansive glass, for a start. And the $750 million poured into the development shows in the expensive finishes. The plants are real (touch them!) The sofas – each one surely placed by a team of retail psychologists and Feng Shui experts – are luxurious leather. The bathrooms are lavish, the muzak is smooth and loud. And yes, that woman's handbag is genuine Louis Vuitton.
The new (I-can't-believe-it's-not-a) mall stands in the heart of one of the wealthiest enclaves in Australia. A retail catchment area with the highest household income in the nation, and a demographic largely made up of child-free couples and singles, DINKS and SINKS.
To penetrate this high-end market, the creators of WBJ have taken familiar elements of the American-style suburban mall and added a lavish ka-ching. There's a Greater Union cinema, but it also shows arthouse films, and two of the cinemas are 'Gold Class', which means waiter service to your armchair. The 'food court' is rebranded as a 'unique cafe court'. There the very rich and very thin can sip ginger tea and pick at a bowl of Korean salad, perched on a designer stool, and gazing at the panoramic view of yachts and prime eastern suburbs real estate. As the WBJ website sells it: 'Forget the greasy take-away counters usually found at shopping centres “ here you'll be able to indulge your demanding taste buds.' (Those with less demanding, lower-end tastebuds are not entirely abandoned “ McDonalds lurks at 'terrace' level amongst the greasy take-away counters that really make a mall a mall.)
Not feeling inspired and empowered yet? Try the new, unique, world-first Handsfree Shopping(TM). The concept is simple. You go ahead and buy more than you can carry, then the concierge desk sends a porter to carry your bags for you. It's not frenzied over-consumption, oh no. It's an empowering shopping experience. They'll even carry the bags to your valet-parked car at the end of an exhausting day.
Not fresh and fun enough? Get your hair done with other 'powerful and influential clientele' at the Joh Bailey salon. Have your nails manicured. Book in for a Chinese massage. Then sign up for a Black Label membership at Fitness First Platinum. As the name suggests, it's the same chain gym, but with extra shiny bits. Plasma TV screens, personal training, and the 'largest cosmic cycling studio in Australia'.
WBJ goes all the way. Luxury. Valet. Platinum. Gold Class. Black label. Five star. This is a world pitched squarely at those who have much more to spend than most can ever dream of. And those who can't buy into the dream are way out of sight, completely out of mind. The hands-free Ã¼ber-mall removes any residual guilt that might accompany conspicuous self-indulgence. Relax! Spend! You deserve it all. You're special. Empowered. Inspired.
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