“Social Shopping” by Matt Button

DS.Emotion, who, in their branding and marketing of retail and leisure destinations are delighted to hear that their belief in experience-led, ‘social shopping’ seems to have been a hot topic in the press recently.

It’s no surprise that with the internet flirting with us at regular intervals throughout our ‘super-busy’ days and nights that retailers and shopping destinations alike are majoring on building the layers of engagement and entertainment into their environments in order to catch the eye, and time, of the consumer.

The above concept is nothing new, however. The social engagement and entertainment of consumers has been an important factor for decades. A great illustration of this was displayed by Carnaby Street in the 60’s where the spectacle of the crowd alone was enough to draw people from all over the globe to merely gawp at the garish, daring and inspiring who hung out there. The same is true today, although the platform shoes and flares have been largely replaced with the beard and fixie-bike. Indeed, as a proud member of Generation X, I remember walking down the King’s Road as a kid and staring at the gang of punks, who, in themselves, were one of the reasons so many people flocked to one of the most progressive streets in London – A spectacle indeed and a trigger for many of the brands that flocked there also.

Of course, in the ‘good old days’ these retail and leisure destinations weren’t competing for market share of sales of goods online, but lessons can be learned all the same and opportunities could be seized upon by looking at the past. The curiosity of the voyeuristic modern Instagram or Snapchat user should be re-examined and perhaps opportunities could be created to physically drive footfall, or for landlords to merely to create places for people to hang out, ultimately fulfilling our desire to observe who’s doing what, what they’re wearing and what they like to talk about.

Many a landlord might reel at the thought of gangs of youths clustering, or, heaven forbid, spitting in the corners of their beautifully manicured, super-managed environments, but let’s remember who we’re creating these environments for – the public. If we’re a social species by nature who love nothing more than to be engaged by human interaction – let’s reverse the trend our teenagers are falling into… Lets attack the virtual, lets (in the words of Olivia Newton John) get physical!