Brands are having to feed an always-on pipeline of content for e-commerce, traditional digital marketing media and social media."

Twenty-one months into the pandemic, U.S. shoppers are back in stores, brands are entering a new age of innovation and retail is set to be one of the most transformed industries.

While consumers, even Gen Z and Millennial consumers, still desire to shop in stores, to succeed retailers have to promise shoppers far more than a transaction. Status-quo shopping environments are losing shoppers and maintaining a languishing real estate footprint. Brands are having to feed an always-on pipeline of content for e-commerce, traditional digital marketing media and social media. Given this need to entertain and entice fickle shoppers and produce a slew of branded content, many industry players are integrating content studios into store environments.

Taking a page from the social influencer playbook, brands are running their own store-based creator or “collab” houses. These content studios allow brands to leverage their own and others’ stores for the growing popularity of livestreamed shopping while offering shoppers a heightened in-store experience and motivating them to visit.

Here are three key reasons brands and retailers are building in-store content studios:

1. Physical Stores Are Portals for Digital Sales

Most retailers are already using their stores to fulfill online orders, but their physical footprint also plays a role as livestreamed shopping takes hold. U.S. sales from livestreamed shopping could reach $25 billion by 2023, according to Coresight Research. While this is only a fraction of overall sales, brands and retailers as diverse as Ulta, Samsung, Petco and Bloomingdale’s are experimenting with livestreamed shopping. A year ago, clean beauty leader Beautycounter integrated a content studio into the design of its new Santa Monica store. Store staff members now regularly livestream click-to-shop product demos while in-store shoppers act as de facto audiences.

2. Physical Stores Are Stages for Digital Brand Building

The role of social media and digital content in brand building continues to grow and influencer- and user-generated content has become essential to building brand awareness and affinity. Integrating production capabilities into store environments creates a polished, brand-curated backdrop for staff, shoppers, key influencers and other celebrities to co-create the varied assets that modern brands require.

Vans, for instance, has long used its stores as literal stages for entertainment and with the recent introduction of its Channel 66 livestreaming network, the brand is extending the reach of its in-store content with interviews and other music-focused offerings. For Pride month this year, they partnered with LGBTQ+ influencers for several of these livestreamed store events.

3. Physical Stores Are Experiential Destinations

As traffic to stores gains momentum, responsive brands are reacting with environments that foster connection. With its new barbershop near Ohio State University, 83-year-old brand Old Spice is hoping to connect with and draw the area’s younger demographic. In addition to housing a studio where visitors, influencers and brand spokespeople can create and be featured in real-time social and digital content for its own and retailer-partner channels, the brand has designed the space as a physical reflection of its transformation from the products your grandfather used to one that’s relevant to today’s young male consumer. The location is an event space where consumers can experience Old Spice as both a service and a place to gather and connect with the brand as a creative backdrop.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine physical stores as exciting destinations for experience, co-creation and other participatory forms of engagement. And as social and digital content play a larger and more influential role in brand building, these destinations will play a larger role in the creation of that content.

Lisa Hurst
Executive Vice President

Lisa Hurst leads marketing and strategy for Upshot, an Advantage Solutions agency. She drives thought leadership and helps clients create insight-driven strategies and solutions.

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