Beyond Aesthetics: The Future of Shareability

Kseniya Sharin, Strategist at FITCH

Credit: Brad Dickson / Louis Vuitton

In retail, there has been a shift from creating dedicated ’selfie’ moments in-store for the sake of it, to a focus on designing visually outstanding stores that are beautiful enough to be ‘instagrammable’. This element is a crucial factor within the modern store experience, which should be exciting and different enough for consumers to capture and share as they like.

Instagram users and influencers have now gone beyond just wanting to have a perfectly curated feed where they display the most attractive places they’ve been to — they’re looking to show their friends and followers the cool, the new and the different.

Most in-store spaces dedicated to photos are no longer tasteful or innovative; ‘instagrammable’ moments are code for flower walls, balloons or big graphic statements, usually with neon lights. These features often have no real depth or meaning to the brand, and now clog up the feeds of most users — it’s no longer the social currency it once was.

Selfie walls and backdrops have become so mainstream that there are places like the ‘selfie factory’ in Westfield popping up to cash in on it (£9.99 for 1 hour with all the backdrops you want).

More than ever, consumers are looking for transparency and authenticity from the brands they engage with — so retailers must design experiences which are true to, and reflect, the essence of the brand. Since the desire for this will only increase, it’s important for retailers to consider from the initial strategy and concept design stage the ways they want their stores to be shareable.

The future will not be about creating ‘instagrammable’ stores, it will be about pushing the boundaries of newness; designing a visually-ownable aesthetic and creating differentiating experiences that consumers will want to document and share with their friends.

The power of localisation

Glossier is a great example; the digitally native, cult beauty brand has an expansion strategy that localises it’s stores and pop ups to a specific city, therefore creating a unique experience not found anywhere else. Store openings drive a lot of buzz online — and its largely because they create a physical environment for the online #glossier community to connect in person.

Whilst the recently opened Atlanta store paid homage to the city’s music industry, the Glossier London pop-up pays reference to a quintessential London townhouse. Launched to a lot of hype and excitement with queues stretching down Floral Street, shoppers walk into a jazzy, floral (ofcourse!) space with matching wallpaper and carpets, surrounded by the infamous ridged test and trials tables. Staff are dressed in the brand’s iconic pink jumpsuits, acting as an extension of the brand and a pull-point for shoppers wanting to take pictures with them. The community have a chance to mingle in a store designed for the city they are in, enjoy the experience together and most importantly — share it back online with beautiful images.

Credit: Veerle Evans / Glossier

The store as a canvas for creativity

Having a retail experience strategy which cuts deeper than just the final picture posted online by customers is an important future focus area for brands.

Louis Vuitton marked the launch of Virgil Abloh’s latest Men’s Collection last summer by creating a show-stopping corner store pop-up that was completely painted in daring neon green. Furniture, plants, mannequins, facade, floor and ceiling were covered in paint, leaving the colourful collection to stand out in the space. The store drove footfall from those not even interested in purchasing products, but who wanted a beautiful photo of a trending location.

The neon green colour is a fantastic choice for standing out on the Instagram feeds, but what made this perfect for Instagram goes beyond just the boldness of the colour. Abloh invited his followers to get creative and use the side of the store as a green screen, and setting this challenge attracted a different set of potential customers as well as encouraging reasons to both visit and return. Followers created video art ranging from a field of flowers to a galaxy filled with stars, sharing these online with their friends and followers resulted in social brownie points and a boost of online engagement for the brand.

Credit: Brad Dickson / Louis Vuitton

A visually differentiating and exciting aesthetic is a proven ‘must’ to draw people in to photograph a store, but retailers must review other ways this can be expanded to get consumers interacting with the space and particularly: how the store can become a canvas to channel creativity.

When brands create interesting opportunities for consumers to get involved such as through personalisation or a physical contribution to the space, the result is an experience which feels more ownable and tailored to the individual.

Offering new creative licenses under which shoppers would want to photograph and actually share their experience will in turn foster a much more emotional, and more powerful, relationship with your audience for the future.

Follow Kseniya and FITCH on LinkedIn.

FITCH is a global design consultancy. Designing the Future. Online, offline and in person.