The Instagrammable Pop-up Trend

The Instagrammable Pop-up Trend

Instagram is a force to be reckoned with, especially for marketers. Its unique interface which allows for a stream of visual content is a gold mine for brands that want to gain exposure and generate a following. Previously, brands relied mostly on in-app ads and the influence of Key Opinion Leaders. However, a different approach has been gaining popularity. Instead of producing content for Instagram, there is now a new focus on creating unique (read: aesthetically pleasing) physical experiences that encourage users of the app to upload their own pictures. This ensures an organic flow of brand content - what’s not to love about that!

Need more convincing? Pop-ups themselves are an incredible marketing tool in the age of e-commerce. Research estimates that they are about 80% less costly than brick-and-mortar outlets; they are also able to beat traditional retail in certain areas: consumer insight facilitated by data, personalized experiences, relationship building and communication of brand values. Pair that with the power of social media and you have yourself a successful marketing campaign.

Need tips to get started? Here are a few ideas on how this fad can be worked to your advantage.

1. Think neon: Toyota 

What is more inviting to Instagram users than spaces filled with futuristic neon lighting? Not only do neon lights look phenomenal in pictures, they are fun to interact with in real life. Toyota launched a pop-up in Brooklyn that promised to be a multi-sensory experience. There were six rooms inspired by Toyota Camry’s campaign words of “Lust”, “Hunger”, “Throb”, “Boom”, “Pulse” and “Drool”, each with a different concept but all designed for guests to get to know the car model better and of course, to snap photos for the ‘gram. The pop-up was a great success and generated a lot of buzz on the Internet, with a featured video produced by Essence reaching over 4 million impressions on social media.

2. Take inspiration from the pop-up’s surroundings: Glossier

Many are familiar with beauty brand Glossier’s signature millennial pink color. As Glossier expands and dives into the realm of pop-up stores, one can reasonably expect to see this lovely shade of pink present. While that is true, Glossier also makes sure to include local elements in its pop-up designs. The Miami pop-up’s exterior blended perfectly into the wall art-filled Wynwood Arts District, while the interior had references to the city’s art deco influence. In the Seattle pop-up, Glossier utilized native, locally sourced flowers to decorate the space - inspired by Seattle’s green scenery and surrounding nature. The result was one-of-a-kind experiences that were a unique blend of brand identity and local culture! They definitely generated a lot of buzz and made for striking photos. Additionally, the pop-ups brought business! One of the New York pop-ups generated more sales revenue per square foot than the average Apple Store.

3. Variety is key: Refinery29’s 29Rooms

The 29Rooms exhibit is widely considered to be one of the first “Instagrammable” experiences that went viral. It is not difficult to see why it has been so popular! Now in its 5th year, the exhibit features a brand new set of 29 spaces every year and has served as wonderful publicity for the digital media company. The key to this pop-up’s success has been its commitment to variety. Every year, Refinery29 collaborates with different artists and celebrities to put together 29 distinct rooms. The rooms provide social commentary, but are also trendy and very pleasing to the eye. Its approach to creating pop-ups ensures that there is something for everyone. Even if you don’t enjoy one of the rooms, there are still 28 left for you to explore...and 28 more photo opportunities. Even back in 2017, the event's 20,000 attendees gathered about 729MM potential impressions for the hashtag #29Rooms and total social interactions of over 520MM. The company estimated that 29Rooms reached about 1 in 2 Instagram users.

4. Make it a playground: Color Factory

Who doesn’t love a hands-on experience? The Color Factory in San Francisco and New York certainly knows that. This pop-up museum is colors galore, if its name didn’t give it away, but also features many playful elements. The crowd favorite: giant ball pits filled with either bright blue or yellow plastic balls. When people are having fun, they naturally would want to document it. This is how the Color Factory achieved social media fame, with so many attendees sharing photos and videos of the ball pits! By introducing the element of play to a pop-up, you can expect consumers to associate your brand with a happy sentiment - and they’ll want to talk about it and share it with their friends. Its social media reach no doubt brought in more visitors, with the San Francisco location attracting over 170,000 attendees through its nine-month run.

5. Collaborate with established pop-ups: Museum of Ice Cream & Target

Pop-up museums like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Color Factory are so successful that they have generated a cult following with sold-out runs in the US and beyond. Many brands have leveraged the popularity of these museums to engage with wider audiences and be associated with a youthful, creative exhibition. Usually, this is done by sponsoring brand content at these museums.
But, there are other ways to work with pop-up museums. Museum of Ice Cream and Target teamed up in the most unexpected way - to sell ice cream. Following the offline and online (168K Instagram posts associated with the #MuseumofIceCream hashtag and counting) success of the Museum, its founders developed exclusive ice cream flavors for a short pop-up run in New York. Afterwards, Target began exclusively selling them. This goes to show that brands can experience the positive effects of a successful Instagrammable pop-up in many ways - it isn’t confined to a single space or method.

Find out about how you can create your own Instagrammable brand experience

We hope that you’re feeling inspired! As you can see, there is no magic formula to a successful Instagrammable pop-up - the possibilities are endless. Catalyst is experienced in designing an array of pop-ups that suit our clients’ objectives. Head over to Our Work to check out our exciting projects, or drop our team a message today to find out the optimal approach for your brand.