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What’s Behind Stores That Don’t Sell Anything?

By Dennis Kaiser

Retailers across the spectrum from high-end brands to chain stores are creating Instagram-ready rooms whose main purpose is to wow the customer and encourage social media posts. These can be either pop-up spaces or longer-term commitments, though sales are not the main focus.

JLL retail researcher Taylor Coyne says, “It’s a phenomenon. These spaces are not really designed for sales. They are much more about sending a message to customers. And they are a way to bring people into physical spaces when so much shopping is happening online.”

Among the more intriguing examples included a series of installations designed to evoke a “dream-like landscape” last year by luxury retailer Van Cleef & Arpels. In Downtown Los Angeles, beauty retailer Sephora took over an old theater and sold tickets to a “personal immersion” event. Guests could frolic in tubs of gold confetti, sit on gigantic faux watermelon wedges, and pose on a flower-bedecked pink convertible. An example in New York City was by beauty brand Winky Lux, which launched a Winky Lux Experience, replete with life-sized lemon juicers and tiny tea rooms.

Coyne says, “This trend particularly suits beauty and fashion brands, because of the ability to weave whimsical visual stories out of product selections.”

While Coyne points out the trend in Instagram-able stores in the U.S. is largely concentrated in New York and Los Angeles, she says it is starting spread beyond the coasts. The Winky Lux Experience popped up in Chicago and Atlanta, adding a sales component to the experience.

Not only are these spaces becoming increasingly commonplace for shoppers, the trend is a boon for commercial real estate landlords renting these spaces.

Coyne says that retailers need to continue thinking outside the box in order to differentiate themselves, so expect to see envelopes continued to be pushed in the future. “The more retailers can align their Instagram rooms and spaces with their brand, the more room for innovation they have,” she says.

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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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