“I'd be living my best life in a dress like that.” This thought crosses the mind of women everywhere when shopping for things we don’t need on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
BuzzFeed expands on this in a post about the shopping experience at Anthropologie, an American retailer that "caters to creative, educated and affluent women." What we may not consider as consumers though, is that it’s not just about the dress - we're being sold a lifestyle.
Now more than ever, brands are selling us lifestyles instead of (read: in addition to) products. Sure, you’re buying that dress, but product promotion is morphing into something much more emotional than transactional, and social media has become a prominent path for this type of lifestyle promotion.
Instagram, in particular, is ideal for promotion. It’s no secret that everything looks better with a filter. It’s also no secret that you're being targeted with those filtered photos based on your online behavior.
When I first joined Instagram years ago, I kept it simple, following a few friends and allowing a select few to follow me. But as my tenure on Instagram grew, so did the number of brands I followed. The result? I am now regularly saturated with images of the lifestyle I pride myself on achieving.
This may sound like a negative experience, but it’s actually quite the opposite. As a triathlete, rock climber, and all around outdoor enthusiast, I follow brands like Under Armour, REI and Athleta. These companies, among so many others, strengthen their brand identity by keeping their voice consistent and promoting their mission and values through Instagram. In turn, I receive doses of addictive soundbites in the form of curated images.
Social media channels like Instagram augment the digital space by bringing brands and products to life through images. Certain brands, like the ones mentioned above, have won my loyalty because they produce content that resonates with me and speaks to my identity - which of course motivates me to purchase their products.
The power is not in the dress (or the GPS tracking watch, or the rock climbing shoes...), the power is in the feeling. It's the sense of identity you feel when you put on that dress, customize your tracking watch, or jam your feet into those new climbing shoes. The power is in the lifestyle.