The ideal city centre

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Is the city centre a popular leisure destination? What does she ideally look like? And are there different wishes and ideas, depending on which target groups you ask and which perspective you take?

We were interested in these questions during one of our current surveys on urban life and development. The focus was on how consumers draw the ideal inner city, but also how they imagine the perspective of retailers and city planners.

How often do you go to the city in your spare time?

Let us first look at the frequency of visits to the city centre: there are hardly any differences between young and old, but there are between the sexes: men tend to go more regularly to the city centre; according to our survey, this is preferably related to their professional activity.

Overall, the visitor trend in the city centre can be described as mixed. Only 12% of all Germans are several times a week in the city centre – and often on their way to work. Every fourth is less often than monthly or never for leisure activities in the city centre.

How often do Germans go to the city in their spare time?

In their leisure time, younger people are attracted to the city much more regularly than the target groups over 30 years of age. After all, 28% of 18-29 year olds visit the city centre at least once every two weeks. A value that is significantly higher than the comparable groups aged 30-49 or 50+ years. Conversely, this development is also evident in the rare city visitors: While only 11% of 18-29 year olds say that they visit the city centre less frequently than once a month, this rate is already 24% and 25% respectively for older target groups (30-49 years and 50+ years).

Who visits the city center about every two weeks frequently in their spare time?

Change of perspective

It is exciting to see how consumers can present the various views of the city in a variety of ways. They themselves are primarily concerned with the quality of their stay, their consumer perspective is dominated by places (27% of all statements) followed by emotions (24%) and functional aspects (22%). With16 % of all statements, actions are somewhat more negative.

As this participant, male, 50+ years, says :

Shopping facilities that can be reached by car or public transport. In the city centre there are many possibilities to rest or drink coffee. Lots of green, so lawns, trees and seating areas. In the dark season outdoor areas and paths that are brightly lit. Short distances from public stops, car parks and multi-storey car parks. Toilets are also important.

Some respondents are already proposing future-oriented services, e.g.:

Free delivery of products with bulky dimensions. Products are provided with a barcode so that the customer can scan them into the market with his smartphone and pay for them immediately. The dealer packs them and brings the goods to an easily accessible collection point, where there is also support to have his purchase brought to the car. or the goods are delivered to home.

Good accessibility, sufficient parking and an attractive offer are crucial for consumers. The quality of the stay includes mainly public places with seating or parks, restaurants and cafés. The same goes for the handling of cars in the city centre.

Consumer perspective (in German)

If we ask the respondents to take the perspective of the retailer, the answers naturally revolve around one location: the store. Directly connected are parking lots, but also cafés and restaurants, neighboring shops or the pedestrian zone.

Dealer view (in German)

Taking the perspective of the urban planner is certainly the most challenging task. Not surprisingly, the places and areas (30 % of the statements) that the urban planner has to design again predominate. Even with this change of perspective, consumers remain emotional (22% of statements) and think of many green spaces or squares. The city should be clean and pretty, therefore being perceived as comfortable, attractive and friendly.

Town planning (in German)

A few words regarding the analysis: Our software Dialego SemanticMining uses artificial intelligence to automatically and intelligently condense texts and reveals connections in large amounts of data. The results of the text analyses are “maps” that reveal individual contents and their structure. One of these maps is TreeMaps. In these, the answers are displayed as a visual mapping. The so-called ontology consists of nine categories as a kind of meta-category system: Actions (red), functions (green), emotions (pink), people (orange), places (brown), time (grey), product (turquoise), brand (blue), advertising (purple).

Dialego study

In November 2018, we asked the Germans for their opinion on the ideal inner city. For the current study, 1,000 women and men aged 18+ from Germany were interviewed. The study is representative by age and gender. We are happy to answer any further questions you may have.

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Andera Gadeib
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Andera Gadeib is founder and CEO of Dialego. The business information scientist has been a proven expert in the field of digitization for many years. Among other things, she is a member of the advisory board for young digital economy of the BMWi and of the board of the German IT-Mittelstand bitmi.
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