The instagrammable store: the promise of a differentiating customer experience
The previous purpose of stores was to stock and sell products. In the digital age, this is no longer enough: stores must now be a place for experiences.
With the advent of social networks, such as Instagram, these experiences need to be differentiating, visual and shareable. We have entered the era of the “instagrammable” store. With the increasing popularity of the application, brands and retailers have had to devise ways of adding clicks to the bricks of their retail outlets. Although visual merchandising has always been one of the strengths of retail outlets, this new trend goes beyond this. It consists of “creating a perfect visual moment” that really comes to life in a photo.
Store design has always been important
The visual in-store experience is now designed to be viewed through the lens of a smartphone camera. A few years ago, the Converse store in New York, presented a wall display consisting of shoes. This was definitely the first instagrammable experience — before Instagram even existed.
At the moment, many brands are changing the design of their stores or opening new stores, with the aim of creating visually attractive spaces.
Three striking examples of instagrammable stores in New York
Numerous pure players opening physical stores have created their community of customers using Instagram or other social networks. It is entirely logical to see them adopt the instagrammable store concept. Winky Lux is a cosmetics brand that is really popular with young Americans. The brand has opened a physical retail outlet, based primarily around 7 rooms for customers to visit. Each room has been specially designed for its young customers and loyal Instagram users. To visit them, you need to pay a $10 entry fee and each room has a different ambiance and design. Of course, each room is linked to a Winky Lux product that matches the ambiance!
The $10 can be used as a discount against an in-store purchase. The benefit for the brand: transforming the customer experience by creating an ambiance that differs from that of a Sephora store, for example. Burrow is a sofa brand that has recently opened a store in New York. Its aim is to focus on the product and allow customers to take a great photo. So, it provides an area designed especially for Instagram, where customers can sit on a sofa and take a selfie. A green screen on the wall behind the sofa allows the photo background to be changed. The product is highlighted and the customer can test it and share it on Instagram.
The Kellogg’s café also has a dedicated area. The number and variety of cereals available in this café allows customers to play with colours. One of the major trends on Instagram is to share pictures of food, at home or in a restaurant. So Kellogg’s has installed a table designed solely for this purpose, with two professional lights on each side and props to be arranged as you wish, in order to obtain the perfect photo of your bowl of cereal. Not forgetting the appropriate hashtag, of course!
Pop-up stores are perfect for developing an Instagram-focussed strategy. Pop-up stores are actually temporary spaces designed to celebrate a product or a service. This means that the store’s design is one of the key features of a pop-up store. During the month of September 2018, the Vital Proteins brand opened a pop-up store in New York. Customers came both to look at products and to take photos. A green wall, with a vast array of colours, and products that are attractive to young customers, transformed this store into an “Instagram spot”. The brand’s hashtag was very much in evidence as, although Vital Proteins had made the effort to decorate its pop-up store for Instagram, it should not be forgotten that it’s a marketing investment.
In 2017, GAP opened a pop-up store for the holiday season with an instagrammable design. It was filled with colour and hashtags on the walls and, notably, an interesting process for promoting the event on Instagram. All the store’s customers were told that by sharing their photo of the store with the corresponding hashtag, they could download a printable version of their photo. A great way of rewarding customers for publishing their photos!
In addition to being a key tool for communication and a vital source for discovering products, the use of Instagram is constantly developing in stores. What is essential is that “instagrammability” needs to be taken into account, both when developing a location or a product, and when formulating an in-store marketing strategy. To establish the brand’s authenticity, credibility and communications strategy, stores need to make products and services worthy of being Instagrammed. The social network can be seen as a lure to tempt customers into a store.