Many people are flocking to pop-up shops and experiences in the hopes of capturing an Instagram-worthy photo — which is good news for merchants in more ways than one.
In an experience-based economy, having a photo on social media is sometimes more valuable than making a purchase, said Gerald Storch, CEO of retail advisory firm Storch Advisors, according to CNBC.
“It’s just as real if it’s virtual,” he added.
And the photos posted on social media serve as free advertising for the pop-ups. At the Egg House, brunch fans can pose in life-size egg carts with pink spatulas hanging from the ceiling, or play in a yellow-and-white ball pit.
Its founder, Biubiu Xu, said the pop-up sold out every weekend during its 12-week run in New York last spring, accounting for nearly $200,000 in ticket sales, despite the fact that it didn't invest in advertising. Instead, it relied on the more than 15,000 people that follow the pop-up on Instagram.
“We’re not seeing any end to viral sharing and the currency that brings to the world,” said Matt Statman, CEO and chief creative officer of Motive, a creative ad agency. He added that exclusivity is also a factor.
“It’s about being first to get in,” he said. “And then, once you do that, you’ve got to share it with the world.”
And while pop-ups say they offer more than just the chance for a cool social media post, people are still drawn to them for the photos. In fact, some visitors admit that the reality can be less satisfying.
“You see all the photos and you think it would be fun to go,” said Susannah Smreker, a recent visitor at The Happy Place in Chicago. “But now that I’ve been to one, I’m not interested in doing another, no matter how cool it looks on Instagram.”