2014: the year social shopping took off

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Shoppable Instagram 

One of the biggest developments in social this year was the ability for brands to turn ‘likes’ on Instagram into purchasing opportunities. The concept is fairly simple: you sign up with your Instagram handle and your email address, and the proprietary tech links your liking history with the products in the pictures. 

One of the early leaders in the market Like to Know it teamed up with Vogue to offer the magazine’s followers the chance to be emailed product selections directly related to their liking. Major US retailers Nordstrom and Target also developed the trend, working with visual marketing and analytics firm Curalate to launch Like2Buy

Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs Beauty were two of the major fashion and cosmetics labels who joined the trend, both unveiling their own shoppable Instagram projects in November. Expect plenty more of this in 2015. 

Tweets as currency 

2014 was the year that brands embraced the idea that our tweets, Facebook statuses and Instagram likes were worth something tangible in the real world, and the idea of the customer and the brand representative continues to blur.

Trend-setting Marc Jacobs kicked off the idea in the spring with his Daisy Tweet Store. Created to celebrate the latest Daisy fragrance, the pop-up shop in New York City only accepted social currency (be that a tweet, a Facebook post or an Instagram tag) in return for the treats on offer. 

In November Onesie brand OnePiece also created a pop-up social currency experiment. Located in SoHo at 557 Broadway, the store allows shoppers to leverage social following for purchasing power with every 500 followers worth $1, with the ability to earn an extra $20 for purchases when sharing images from the store with the #socialcurrency hashtag through January. Customers are able to earn up to $500 of social currency to spend on the brand.

Location, location, location

Meanwhile this fall London’s Liberty, one of fashion’s oldest multibrand boutiques, also began offering incentive based on social network activity, teaming up with the Tapestry app for personalized in-store rewards according to a user’s Instagram likes and previous in-store purchase history.

The interesting addition here is the use of Apple’s iBeacon technology, which adds a location-based element. With Bluetooth on, when a user enters the store, their phone alerts them to exclusive offers including special gifts and extra reward points. These are generated with unique bar codes which can be redeemed at the counter. 

Because the app is tracking Instagram likes it knows exactly which parts of Liberty’s brand mix to suggest, even if the shopper hasn’t previously purchased that label before. We imagine there will be plenty more stores using such information to help guide choices in their physical locations in the future. 

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