It’s Saturday morning at 9am. On a sunny day, Portobello market is always swamped with people from curious tourists to residents out for a bit of organic food shopping or antique hunting. I walk past this shoes shop almost every Saturday, and every time I see shoppers not only come for the shoes, people of all ages marvel at the fantastic installation at the entrance of this tiny shop – a chandelier design made up of high heel shoes. I thought, how clever it is, a shoes shop all of a sudden is not just a shoes shop anymore. It screams originality, creativity, craftsmanship and glamour.
In the book ‘Design for Shopping’, design editor Sara Manuelli said:
“…The market has traditionally been the place for the exchange of goods and has defined the relationship between the retails and the consumer. Mass culture and globalisation resulted in the evolution of the marketplace into a wondrous array of subtle formats. Today, the digital technology revolution and the impact of saturated markets have altered it even further. What was once the marketplace has now evolved into a zone of experience and lifestyle, and shopping has changed with it. The basic behavioral patterns of consumer activity have now taken on a social and cultural complexity. Commodity has become increasingly substituted and incorporated into services; retail is gradually morphing into leisure; and art has been installed to elevate the purchasing act – as if by purifying the shopping experience, one could forget the very principles of commodity and the capital it is based upon…”
In the world of marketing, brands cannot underestimate the power of consumers these days. In a recent project that I have been working on for a beverage brand, the client was looking for ways to extend the marketing budget by free publicity. What I always trying to stress to client is that free publicity isn’t being generated out of nothing but through carefully articulated and often than not, strategically curated content.
To me, an installation like this not only draws in customers, it also allows consumers generated content to be distributed freely – people tweet about it, like it on face book or simply talk about it over a cup of coffee. In fact, it actually builds brands.
When I tried to take a quick snap of the installation, a shop assistant came around and said no photography is allowed. What a shame, I thought, there may be more people like me who will blog about it and, who knows, will give the shop the much needed free publicity that the company has always wanted.
Across the street on Portobello market, not far away from the Kurt Geiger shop, is the popular All Saints, in this flagship store they have repeated the formula of displaying reclaimed sewing machines on the entire wall, a spectacular way of dressing up the store, and because photography are welcomed, god knows how many images end up on the facebook page of friends of the shoppers. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing.
Photos by Louie Chow