Field Research Report: King of Prussia Mall

I chose to do my field research report in the Courtyard section of the King of Prussia mall.  The area of the Courtyard is considerably large but smaller in comparison to the Plaza section of the King of Prussia mall. Macy’s and Bloomingdales are the Courtyard’s major department stores and it also highlighted with a variety of different retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Banana Republic. But what maybe the biggest attraction for consumers in the Courtyard is the Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Throughout the Courtyard there are many digital advertisements that are promoting movies and sometimes different stores that are in the King of Prussia mall. However, there aren’t many aspects of the mall that encourage mobile media use. Some of the individual store have promo’s and signs encouraging them to follow their Twitter page or to like the Facebook page. I am a frequent “visitor” to the King of Prussia mall because I have in fact worked there for two years. So in doing my research I spent the majority of my time at my store “Levi’s” which is located next to the Cheesecake Factory, and the other part of my time outside of Urban Outfitters.

Since this observation took place on a Saturday, the mall was filled with a variety of the different types of people. However where I was “stationed,” there was a large amount of families that were in this particular area. A large part of that has to do with the Cheesecake Factory being in the area. Most of these families were waiting to be seated in the restaurant. I first started my observation outside my store between the Cheesecake Factory and Urban Outfitters. A began to focus in on two different families that were waiting to be seated at the Cheesecake Factory amongst the large crowd. One family was what seemed to be a very young couple. A man and woman that looked like they were in their mid-twenties. They had a young boy who seemed to be about 4 or 5 years old. The wait for the Cheesecake Factory at the King of Prussia mall can be very long because of its popularity and it is not as big as its other locations. The weather was very nice on Saturday. My research first took place around two o’clock in the afternoon. The weather was still around 60 degrees outside so the man had a navy blue tee and blue Levi jeans. The woman had on a grey sweater, black tights and black Uggs.

As the couple were waiting they began to be very active in using their mobile devices. At the beginning of their wait they were very engaged with one another in conversation, monitoring, and playing with their child. Within the first 20 minutes of their wait, they took about a 10 minute look into Urban Outfitters and browsed around. When they came back out of Urban Outfitters they appeared visibly anxious and tired of waiting to be seated at the Cheesecake Factory. Their son began to get more and more antsy and energetic as their wait went on. Both parents were using some kind of mobile device as I wasn’t quite close enough to tell what brand it was. The longer the couple waited, it seemed to me that they began to be uninterested in conversation with each other. So they began to be very active in using their mobile devices. As their son became more and more energetic, the mother let him play a game on her phone to try and calm him down. After about 45 to 50 minutes of waiting the couple was finally seated at the Cheesecake Factory after their buzzer went off.

After the young family were seated inside the Cheesecake Factory, I began to focus in on a much larger family group that was also waiting before I headed into work. This family group had about five young adults or teens and about six adults. Two of the couples (male and female) seemed to be in their late 30’s or 40’s. And there was an elderly couple (male and female) that seemed to be in their 60’s or even 70’s. This was an African-American family. This family group probably had the same waiting time as the first family I observed but they didn’t use their mobile devices nearly as much as the first couple I observed. The wait also didn’t seem to bother them as much because they were having a pretty good time talking to one another. I began to notice that people who weren’t in large groups tended to use their mobile devices as they waited more than people who were in large parties. In doing my observation I felt pretty weird at first but as I began to realize I wasn’t being noticed, I felt fine doing it. As time went on doing this observation, it began to get very boring for myself and I was often tempted to use my mobile device as well. During my work shift I noticed that a large amount of our customers were people who were in fact waiting for the Cheesecake Factory and not really interested in buying our product. This field research ties into my final project because I want to develop an application that will tell people how long a wait is at a particular restaurant and how many seats and tables are inside of the restaurant. This would benefit people immensely because they wouldn’t have to wait for hours and end up spending money at stores they didn’t plan to shop in and eventually return items because of this.

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One thought on “Field Research Report: King of Prussia Mall”

  1. It’s not clear what the social justice implications of your app idea are. If you were to create an app that would tell people how long they have to wait for a restaurant table, how would that promote social justice? There is an economic angle you suggest, but even then it’s unclear what the app would do that a quick call to the restaurant before venturing out or talking to the restaurant hostess wouldn’t do. It would seem like people were willing to wait a long time to go to that particular restaurant, implying that an app wouldn’t change that too much. You also say that many of the customers at your store who were waiting for a table weren’t interested in buying anything, so that economic angle seems hard to support. There is a lot of discussion here about people using their phones to fight boredom (their own or their children’s). Is there a way you could connect the boredom fighting potential of the app to a greater social justice cause?

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