Stores aren’t typically the first place you think of when planning where to socialize, but retail company Ardene is changing that. According to strategy, the retailer recently opened a new location in Carrefour du Nord, a mall in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, that “embraces the gen Z lifestyle.” With plans to upgrade their in-store experience, Ardene is dedicating areas of their stores to “hanging out” -- spaces are set up to charge phones and take photos for social media posts.
Having spaces within the store dedicated to the creation of social media posting is a win-win situation. For Ardene, it’s a foolproof way to develop an online presence and indirectly promote their own products. For young shoppers, having an aesthetic background provides the perfect opportunity to get a pic for the ‘gram. In creating these hangout spaces, Ardene invites the merging of online and in-store experiences.
To the young shopper, these hangout spaces may seem like natural extensions of the shopping experience, but they’re incredibly important to the evolution of consumerism. The fact that spaces such as these have come to exist is representative of how far consumerism has come, and Ardene is right to keep up with the needs and wants of their primary customer base, who are between the ages of 14 and 24. Social and cultural capital are being increasingly easy to flaunt through platforms such as Instagram, and it’s interesting to see how this phenomenon influences the physical space of stores.
The fact is, consumerism is changing. Having a physical store is no longer enough -- designating a specific space for the creation of online social interactions is a new and interesting way to contribute to online branding culture. This “hangout space” is not necessarily about buying, but about selling a particular experience. The culture behind “Instagram-worthy” photos is often unspoken, so it’s quite interesting that Ardene picked up on it and turned it into a physical reality.
As a company whose mission is to bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences, we’re very excited to read about companies who take such fascinating initiatives. Shopping was always a social experience, but we’re delighted to see how the social aspect is being marketed in new and different ways.