American Marketer


Stores should leverage the Instagrammable retail trend

June 24, 2019

CoverGirl's store in New York's Times Square has augmented reality glam stations that allow shoppers to try on looks and share them digitally. Image credit: CoverGirl CoverGirl's store in New York's Times Square has augmented reality glam stations that allow shoppers to try on looks and share them digitally. Image credit: CoverGirl


By Joe Schultz

With glittering walls, giant glowing signs, and interactive elements, including a virtual greeter and a video booth, CoverGirl’s storefront in New York’s Times Square is nothing short of Instagram-worthy. One spot of particular interest is the artificial intelligence-enabled beauty kiosk, where shoppers can test out makeup without actually applying it. The kiosk itself even looks like a giant iPhone.

The goal was to create an experience ready-made for the social media age, when consumers are sharing photos and videos more than ever before. And CoverGirl is not alone.

One step into Glossier’s flagship store in New York’s SoHo district, and it is hard to miss how social media has influenced the design. Pink walls, a red quartz staircase, and cylindrical podiums filled with products inspire visitors to snap photos all around the store — promoting the beauty brand in the process, of course.

Kodak Moment
Incorporating fun, selfie-friendly moments to attract customers and build brand awareness is not just a trend. It is quickly becoming a necessity, and chances are good that you will soon be seeing these interactive retail experiences in more than just flagship stores. They will be showing up in the entirety of a chain.

Will it be easy? Probably not.

Space can be an issue for many retailers. Most stores budget sales per square foot, so creating a “non-selling” space means the rest of the floor must perform at a higher rate. You also need to assign a dollar value to that space based on the estimated brand worth of an Instagrammable moment.

Besides, creating a unique Instagram-worthy space in every store can be a tall order for retailers. It not only must align with your brand, but it must also be a memorable experience that taps into a target audience’s interests.

Black Tap started a trend that many others have mimicked.

By creating the world's most Instagram-worthy milkshakes, the restaurant has claimed its territory in New York and on social media. Let us be real: Most people who order one of those towering milkshakes are not there to eat the whole thing. They are thirsty for their Instagram moment.

Camera loves you
By creating this experience in at least one store per region, retailers can spark excitement and a desire to visit more than just the local store. Localizing the event will make brand focus more obtainable than limiting Instagram moments to a couple of flagship stores across the country.

Here are the best places to start creating an Insta-worthy experience in localized retail spaces:

Make it aesthetically appealing
Millennials and Generation Z are heavily influenced by what they see on social media.

According to a 2015 Instagram user survey, 60 percent of consumers said they discover new products on the platform. But without an Instagram presence, your brand will not be a factor in their purchase decision. To encourage people to share your product on the platform, you need to design in-store experiences worthy of shares.

A good place to start is with a few photo-worthy displays. Artfully arranged merchandise, for example, can inspire people to snap a pic. Just make sure to keep displays subtle, using the less-is-more philosophy. You might also want to place your logo and a hashtag at eye level for better brand recognition.

Leverage influencers
Advertising directly through social media is always an option.

As of 2017, more than 2 million businesses buy ads on Instagram each month. But you might get more bang for your buck by going the influencer route.

In fact, 49 percent of consumers rely on influencer recommendations for many purchase decisions — with 70 percent of teens trusting influencers more than traditional celebrities.

If you are new to influencer marketing, survey customers on their favorite influencers — or just reach out to up-and-coming influencers who have tagged products similar to your own. Invite these influencers to your store for an event. Host a giveaway via their feeds. Ask them to post about your product.

The goal here is to appeal to the younger generation of shoppers before they place their loyalty with a competitor.

Be one of a kind
Unique is the key word to make each experience in your regional stores photo-worthy. Localization can be one way of achieving this. Another might be through products specific to that region.

Footwear and accessory retailer Aldo recently opened a one-of-a-kind store in Toronto on Queen Street West. The new space reflects the architectural and artistic influences unique to the cultural hub, and its success could bring about localized treatments to stores around the globe.

SOCIAL MEDIA is a powerful tool to amplify a brand message. The only real obstacle for retailers is creating a space exciting enough to inspire shoppers to share.

If you focus on the experience, enlist the help of an influencer or two, and keep it unique, you should be well on your way to becoming Instagrammable.

Joe Schultz is vice president of sales at Harbor Retail Joe Schultz is vice president of sales at Harbor Retail

Joe Schultz is vice president of sales at Harbor Retail, Grand Haven, MI. Reach him at