Last summer, one of the great tourist attractions that the city of Lisbon wielded (one, on the other hand, of those fashionable destinations) was that of a museum that basically only was relevant to take photos. It was called Sweet Art Museum, it was a pop up experience and the only thing that was attractive was that its scenarios were visual and attractive, material to make perfect photos for Instagram. The museum closed when the period in which it was going to be open in the city ended and its leaders announced that they would take it to other places (it is now in Brazil). Of course, to enter the museum and be able to take those photos had to pay. Each ticket cost 20 euros per adult.
The history of the museum is one of those striking curiosities and one of those elements that show how social networks have ‘taken over’ the lives of consumers, who no longer see things in the same way and who have already internalized the power of the ‘photo moment’. The important thing begins to be the way in which things ‘remain’ in the images.
The power of photography begins to be overwhelming and decisions to buy and consume are not only marked by the product itself but also by its physical image. Certain things work better simply and simply because we feel that they fit much better than others in the image that we seek to transmit in our social network profiles.
For example, one of the pastry products that triumphs overwhelmingly on Instagram are the macarons, the French sweets. They do so not only because of what is associated with them (which are sophisticated and eye-catching) but also because consumers consider them visually appealing. The macarons, round, colored and that allow many compositions, are beautiful. They result in the photo. And so they have become an element of success.
Of course, many of these triumphs are achieved organically. The macarons are part of the traditional French pastry and nobody designed them to the millimeter so that they ‘stayed’ well in the photo. On other occasions, however, the reality of the product and its visual impact has a lot of business decision behind it.
The coffees that are born for Instagram
The Pantone Color Institute is going to open a kind of coffee in New York, in collaboration with LG. Everything is designed for consumers to arrive, buy a coffee and take a photo, as they explain in Bloomberg. Not only is it a limited experience over time, but it is also something that has very well measured the visual impact of what they present.
The coffee seeks to highlight those colors that Pantone has highlighted as the colors of summer. The coffee will be that color: there will be pink peacock or golden Aspen coffee, which will also be accompanied by cakes that, of course, has been designed by an ultra Instagram-friendly pastry chef, Amirah Kassem. You can almost feel that it does not matter what you know all about: coffee will be an ‘Instagram opportunity’, a way simply to find colorful products that will work in the social network. If consumers buy these coffees, it will be because they want to take the photo.
And no, it is not such a new strategy. Starbucks was already doing it in 2017, when he launched his Unicorn Frappuccino. That product was colorful and striking and if it worked it was because it gave material to make shocking photographs. As they pointed out in Business Insider when the ‘moment’ of the frapuccino was passed, its launching had simply demonstrated that Starbucks had understood how social networks worked and what consumers were looking for to upload messages linked to brands to them. Starbucks had taken from it all a peak of mentions in social networks and, incidentally, a free media coverage.
Even, sometimes, Instagram can turn a product of the bunch into a bombshell. It was what happened with an egg salad sandwich that was the foodie bomb last year. It all started with a coffee in the US, whose managers were not sure if they should include it or not in their offer (basically it is a simple and not so exciting dish). However, they did and triumphed. Sharing the photo of the sandwich became a ritual on Instagram. It triumphed, as they pointed out in an analysis of an American medium, because Japanese is in fashion (and it is a special obsession of the foodie universe) and because, basically, it gave some very beautiful photos.
The food industry is one that seems to be very clear about how things work, but it is not the only one. The ‘design for Instagram’ effect is reaching many more markets and many more terrains.
Some hotels already have style books that define what to do and what not to achieve a greater impact on social networks via their consumers and companies in the world of fashion begin to design their shoes with Instagram in mind, because they have discovered that Posting photos of the shoes themselves is something that your niche consumers tend to do.
Even the covers of the books have begun to change, adjusting to the kind of images they know consumers will share on Instagram, even if it forces them to change some of the recurring principles of design in the industry.