Think about your “happy place”. What comes to mind? Lying in a beach chair, toes in the sand, a gentle ocean breeze cooling off a hot summer day while you sip the frozen drink of your choice? Riding a chair lift slowly to the top of a mountain, glancing down at all the fresh powder you’re about to tear up? When I think about mine it definitely falls closer to the beach fantasy. But how about a happy place centered solely around getting the perfect Instagram.
I know we’ve all seen at least one picture from a pop up art exhibit centered around getting the perfect, trendy Instagram your followers will be jealous they don’t have on their feed. I know I’ve seen quite a couple Instagrams from the Museum of Ice Cream, pictured below, consisting of sprinkle baths, hanging bananas and more pink in one room than you could imagine. Taylor Swift held her own pop up exhibit in New York City in the winter of 2017 following the release of her album Reputation. While both of these experiences were created to commemorate certain things there was also a heavy social media drive behind their existence.
These trends usually taper off depending on how often a new pop up starts flooding Instagram. I became re-interested recently when I saw a tweet in our #IS6621 thread that shared that one of these pop up exhibitions would be coming to Boston in just a little bit. The “Happy Place” wasn’t something I had heard of before but immediately got into searching all social platforms to get a look into what they had to offer. Being the YouTube nerd I am, I had to check out any and every vlog and review from consumers experience at this so called “happy place” to find out if it was worth it.
Tickets are necessary to enter the Happy Place and $35 seems a bit of a lofty price to pay for an Instagram picture for your feed. I’m guilty of posting Instagrams from highly sought out spots, most recently the Wynwood Walls in Miami, however it’s completely free to walk around and take pictures. In an interview with the founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, Maryellis Bunn, she explains that millennials crave experiences over material objects, using them as status social symbols. She states “Experiences are pure. But a photo of yourself experiencing something – even if it only exists as pixels on your phone – is a thing, a thing people want. And it’s a thing they’ll pay extravagantly for.” Users are looking for the picture perfect moment to distinguish themselves from their peers and give their profile that small social edge.
These interactive exhibitions have created a profitable platform completely surrounded around one simple thing – selfies. While doing more research into how these types of business remain profitable I was opened up to a level of business I hadn’t even realized existed – the pop up economy. With the amount of content we sift through daily, marketers have to turn to new avenues to advertise consumers and through pop up style events and shops they can offer a unique hands-on experience that a 30 second ad may not offer. Depending on target audience, brands can use these events as organic advertisement campaigns where users do all of the work, coaxing other consumers into visiting the shop to be a part of the trend. And, with such limited run dates consumers feel more desire to go collect a unique experience that anyone who wasn’t around for those two weeks would never have.
Not only has this changed the marketing world, the real estate industry has been flooded with a wave of ultra-short leases for business and events like these. A company, Splacer, focuses solely in creating what they describe as an “Airbnb for event spaces” helping brands find short term spaces for projects they want to roll out. As brick-and-mortar continues to die, space is expensive and companies are turning to e-commerce with unique pop-up consumer experiences more than ever.
The “museums” began not founded in profit and selfie driven moments, but human experiences used to bring people together over a shared interest in the art and the beauty of the exhibits. A few owners and creators have said that often their goal is just to break even as it’s not that profitable of a business but they love sharing their art so it doesn’t matter. Jordan Ferney, the inventor of the Color Factory another pop up art museum, stated “It was really important to me it wasn’t just a set,” she said. “You work so hard and all people write is, ‘It’s an Instagram museum!’”
While the pop up economy has shifted from its beginning roots in art over profitability, I think from a marketers’ perspective it’s the new way to do advertising. Delegating typical social media campaign funding, such as paying influencers and doing brand deals, into unique spaces for consumers to interact hands-on will generate better brand awareness and dependability. Social media is the perfect way to let consumers do the work for you and creating spaces dedicated to users and their experiential nature could continue on an upward trajectory of profitability.
I’m always a fan of a good ‘gram opportunity and may have to stop by to see if all the hype is worth it. If this piqued your interest too, the shop opens up on April 5th in Boston and you can decide for yourself if this is truly a “happy place”. So, are you gonna go?