by Marella Putri and Putri Aimee Srijaya
As ecommerce becomes the newest convenient choice for shoppers, the main purpose of malls has been gradually changing. Now, instead of shopping, people tend to go to malls for experiences that they cannot get on smartphones. According to property consultancy company JLL, two of the growing attractions that malls provide to attract visitors are art exhibitions and photogenic installations. Exhibitions have generated a buzz on social media and driven traffic to retailers’ venues. For customers, these exhibitions offer fresh experiences and a new escape to look out for in the bustle of city life. This tendency seems to follow similar trends abroad, for example, the Bubble Tea Factory in Singapore and Selfie Museum KL in Kuala Lumpur; And the pioneer in Indonesia is Haluu World.
“We perceive Haluu as a lifestyle. In Jakarta, there is only so much you can do—sit around, gossip, and go to the movies. So, we want to make a lifestyle, a new attraction to engage with in Jakarta,” says Dio Saituro Santoso, COO of PT Mari Haluu Bersama (Haluu World).
Haluu started as a joint “experiment” between six cofounders: Andrew Lamadong, Andre Tanuwijaya, Antonius Chandra, Dio Santoso, Kevin Pudjiadi, and Norine Wibowo. The founders say the inspiration for the business comes from Disneyland theme park. Haluu’s first exhibition was held over three months in December 2018 at the upscale shopping mall Plaza Indonesia in Jakarta.
The exhibition featured an instant noodle Indomie-themed installation, which showcased an Indomie bowl large enough to fit a person. There was also a bathtub of roses and a bright neon sign hanging above with the words “kapan nikah?”, which is a humorous remark by Indonesians translating as “when are you getting married?”. The exhibition was an instant hit, bringing in an incredible volume of foot traffic to an otherwise less-crowded part of the mall. Visitors lined up to four hours and it recorded as many as 120,000 visitors during the three months it was held. Dio recalls that it was difficult for the team to pitch the idea and get the venue for the exhibition as they were bringing the then very new Instagrammable concept. However, following their first success, lots of malls and landlords are now actively seeking out Haluu. In May 2019, Haluu ventured to Surabaya, East Java, where its exhibition was held for four months.
Haluu differentiates its business into two sectors: Haluu’s own exhibitions and at brands’ request. The first one involves the idea and concept for an installation coming solely from Haluu’s team. The team will then approach brands that it feels fit with the installation to see if they want to sponsor the exhibition. Haluu worked that way with Indofood and Bridestory in the aforementioned installations of the first exhibition.
For the latter type of business, brands themselves approach Haluu’s creative agency, Haluu Creative. Haluu helps the brand translate its ideas into an exhibition for activation and to deliver particular messages to the public. Haluu can also help to bring in social media influencers to increase engagement. According to the 2017 EventTrack Survey, around 70% of brands claim that their customers more consciously engage with experience-based activation activity. Haluu gets commissioned for the creative direction, ideas for the installations, and overall intricacy of the installations, since the Haluu in-house team creates all the installations. Haluu also get revenue sharing from the exhibition depending on the visitor foot traffic.
Haluu’s latest collaboration with Nestle’s Bear Brand, for example, helped the brand to renew its market perception. Primarily marketed as milk for elderly people, the brand wanted to change its image and get its six key messages across to its customers – such as that Bear Brand milk can be enjoyed when partying, studying, and engaging in sports. So Haluu made six different installation rooms to deliver the message.
“So many brands want to incorporate experiential marketing because apparently, it’s the ‘it’ thing now in the world,” says Dio.
For every exhibition, Dio claims that Haluu has turned a profit. As a comparison, he says that the total capital for the first Haluu exhibition was around Rp 4 billion. Haluu charged a single-entry ticket price of Rp 100,000 and got some Rp 12 billion in revenue. The number of visitors to the recent Baluun exhibition in June however, dropped by 20%. Dio says that from this they learned that people do not go to exhibitions simply to take pictures, and so Haluu is always ready to change.
“We don’t just see it from the installations, but also on how we can improve on marketing, operations, even to how people should queue. Installations are our main product, but the moment you pay for the ticket, you have to have the whole Haluu experience, not only after you enter the exhibition. If you pay a premium price, you have to get the best of everything,” says Dio.
While Dio says Haluu sticks to its own exhibitions being held twice a year, the creative agency does at least one every month. He is also confident Haluu Creative can hold more exhibitions once it has greater resources. Right now most of the brands that Haluu works with have been FMCG products, but they are open to anything. Dio says that more companies in Surabaya and Makassar have expressed their interest in Haluu bringing its experiential marketing. For the long term, Dio looks forward to offering its creative agency services to a wider range of clients, including to those overseas.
“Obviously if we always do the same Haluu exhibition [over and over again], people will get bored,” Dio says, adding that he believes that as long as Haluu keeps innovating and bringing “something out of the box” to the table, the business idea will be sustainable.