Clarinda Roudrigues and Lisa Söderholm  in Kalmar city center

Students from Linnaeus University help develop Kalmar city centre

In order to meet the challenges and needs of the retail industry of the future, the students on the Retail Management programme are challenged each year to solve tasks directly linked to local trade and service companies. This year, the students have collaborated with Lisa Söderholm, Centre Developer in Kalmar, who asked the students to find out how a city centre like Kalmar City and the local business community can attract Generation Z; that is to say, young people born after 1995.

Retail is an industry in constant change. Trade and service companies are rethinking their business strategies to meet the challenges that come with globalisation, technology, and a new type of consumer.

“Through close collaboration with the retail industry, our students get the chance to come in contact with their future labour market and are faced with problems and issues that are directly related to retail. They also get the opportunity to contribute with knowledge, design-thinking, innovation and creativity, and to apply theories that are relevant to the retail industry”, says Clarinda Rodrigues, associate professor of marketing at the School of Business and Economics at Linnaeus University.

“We chose to focus on this particular generation because we want to be prepared to meet a new type of consumer”, Lisa Söderholm explains.

“Many of the trends and changes we are talking about regarding new consumption patterns and behaviors are taken for granted by this generation. For them, it’s not the future, it’s their way of life today. What is more, they constitute a very large group in society, thus, it would be unwise not to listen to them”, Söderholm continues.

Through the students' work, Lisa Söderholm has gained knowledge about generation Z.

“It is a generation with very clear values, for whom how and why is more important than what. They believe in themselves, they want to work to live and not the other way around, and they want to make a difference. The combination of physical experiences and digital communication comes naturally to them, just to mention some of the knowledge we have gained”.

She will now use this knowledge in her work to develop the city centre together with the business community and the city.

“We have a unique and historic place to look after, but we must also think in new ways in order to be able to develop it and make the most of its strengths. In order to succeed, we must listen, encourage people to get involved, and build a city where people can thrive, today as well as in the future”, Lisa Söderholm concludes.