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Victoria’s Secret unclasps selfies’ in-store potential

Victoria’s Secret is taking its omnichannel marketing to new heights and adding in-store appeal to the selfie by asking fans to visit a location, snap a picture in front of a window display and show a sales associate to receive a free gift, suggesting in-store selfie activations could be the next big thing for millennial-friendly retailers.

The brand is seeking to raise awareness for its Tease perfume line, and took to Instagram to display an invitation for consumers to visit their local bricks-and-mortar location and take a selfie with friends or family. Fans are then asked to upload the photo to social media using the #VSTease and #VSGift hashtags to be eligible for the surprise gift.

“In-store selfies tied to social media are a great way for retailers to drive traffic to their stores and engage shoppers,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Selfies have become a hot trend among the younger generations and they present opportunities for retailers to leverage this fascination to connect with their customers in an entertaining way.

“Social shopping, with likes and dislikes, is becoming prevalent among millennials and it is likely to extend to other demographics.”

In-store mobile activations
While many brands offer contests exclusive to social media and invite customers to upload relevant selfies or photos for sweepstakes entries, Victoria’s Secret is taking that tactic one step further by driving buzz on Instagram as well as fueling foot traffic in-store.

The lingerie retailer is no stranger to offering free items to its direct mail and email subscribers. However, tapping mobile for this strategy may garner even more unplanned store walk-ins, if shoppers happen to stumble upon the Instagram invitation while browsing their newsfeeds.

“Just about the only thing that draws millennials away from their smartphones today is sleep,” said Lisa Cramer, vice president of sales and marketing at InReality, Atlanta. “So retailers taking steps to keep customers connected to social media inside the store is without a doubt a good idea.

“Marc Jacobs actually had great success with a similar tactic not too long ago—its Tweet shop to promote its Daisy perfume line generated unchartered levels of buzz and achieved peak volumes of organic reach.”

Each Victoria’s Secret location has put large stickers on a designated mirror section of the store advertising the Tease perfumes. Fans are encouraged to grab a bottle of the perfume or body spray and pose in front of the mirror sticker.

They must then upload the selfie to Instagram with the #VSTease and #VSGift hashtags and show the picture on their mobile device to a store associate to receive the complimentary gift of a perfume roller.

Instagram currently has nearly 2,000 selfies of fans in front of the displays, meaning that Victoria’s Secret will be able to enjoy increased customer outreach. Consumers who see their friends’ photos may feel inspired to visit a store and pick up the free gift as well.

They may also opt to look around and engage in some impulse shopping, thereby raising revenue for the brand.

Significant retail potential
Other retailers, especially those that cater to millennial or younger demographics, will likely follow in Victoria’s Secret footsteps and roll out similar in-store selfie promotions to celebrate new products or line launches.

The promise of receiving a complimentary gift is enough value to prompt customers to take a quick photo of themselves with a branded sign or display. It ultimately works as an ideal exchange of value, especially as the brand will increase its social media presence to users it may have previously not interacted with.

“The younger members of its audience are probably already snapping selfies in the mall, as is, why not incentivize them to do a bit of free branding?” said Steve Rowen, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami. “We’ll probably see quite a bit more of this with other millennial-friendly retailers in the near future.”

However, retailers with demographics skewing a bit older may not find as much enthusiastic response to this type of campaign. Marketers must be careful to accurately pinpoint their customers’ social media activeness and usage, and determine whether fans believe that uploading branded content is worth receiving a promotional item.

Customers uploaded selfies in groups, organically promoting the Tease perfume

Victoria’s Secret has been engaging in a social media blitz in recent months, likely to roll out a steady stream of material to its fan base, which rapidly consumes the behind-the-scenes looks and Angel-stamped photos it posts to Instagram and Twitter.

Last week, Victoria’s Secret celebrated the release of the new Body by Victoria bra and simultaneously promoted a new roster of Angel ambassadors by handing over the brand’s Instagram and Snapchat accounts to four models as they capture their globetrotting experiences (see story).

Several weeks ago, the brand ramped up two-way communication with its fans by asking social media users to vote on finalists for the brand’s first Summer Hot List on Instagram and Twitter (see story).

“The reality is, after being connected 24/7 to friends and family and shopping with ease online, customers don’t expect to enter a store and enter a ‘digital dead zone,'” InReality’s Ms. Cramer said. “The traditional store will have to change.

“And, we all know that right now 70 percent of customers are finding out about a product outside of the brand/retailer’s advertising, so Victoria’s Secret taking steps to influence sources of inspiration like social media, is more than a smart move, it’s a necessary step forward in retail’s evolving landscape.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York