Instagram is changing a lot of things – how we interact with people, how we shop, and now, what we view as attractive or pretty. Because of the shift in the perception of beauty, Instagram is having a major effect on the design industry, across various segments, including retail, health and wellness, and travel.

Everyone wants to lead “Instagram-worthy” lives, and that’s changing how businesses are designing spaces and customer experiences. Businesses are using Instagram automation in such a way as to be able to consistently show their products and services as part of an Instagram worthy lifestyle – one that today’s Millennials are willing to spend more money to create for themselves.

Today, there are more than 800 million active users on Instagram – almost more than what you’ll find on Twitter and LinkedIn, combined. Half of those users follow at least one business, and 60% of them say they learn about products, services, or locations on the platform. What’s more, is that ¾ of them take some sort of action – whether it be visiting a website or a store after they look at a post.

But how does all of that affect design, and what does it mean for today’s businesses?

How Instagram is Changing the Design Industry

Instagram and Retail Design

Thanks to influencers – and not just actual celebrities – with companies like Chirpify and Soldsie, Instagrammers can make one-click purchases directly from the app to buy clothes they love, without ever setting foot in a retail store. Though the free advertising is nice, retailers have to improve the in-store experience to be able to compete with the convenience mobile shopping offers. This means going beyond products to make sure store interiors and the experience they offer is Instagrammable, too.

Instagram and Health and Wellness Design

You may think of Instagram as a place for fashion and travel ideas, but it’s also been able to capitalize on the health and wellness trend. Food photography was a thing long before the days of social media – but now people are going to restaurants for more than food and food photography. I Have This Thing with Floors is an Instagram account with more than 800k followers – and it’s just pictures of visually interesting floors – many of them found in restaurants.

You’ll find this Instagrammable photo experience in the health food and exercise niches, too – kale salads, acai bowls, cycling classes and so on. A look at the #healthyfood hashtag reveals more than 53 million photos – many of them with complete recipes attached. And the #exercise hashtag has more than 40 million photos – some of which are people showing themselves off in the gym, of course, but many offer workout guidance and hacks, too.

Photos of exercise, meditation, and healthy food may be nothing more than an act for social media – but it’s still affecting the industry overall.

Instagram and Travel Experience Design

Millennials are prioritizing experiences over things. Rather than spending money on cars, TVs, and other material belongings, they’re focused on what they’re doing – with 72% preferring to spend money on experiences than things. According to an article from HuffPo, 86% of millennials would rather experience a new culture, while 44% prefer to party, and just 28% prefer to shop on vacation.

For the hotel industry, this means going beyond just clean and sterile to create a unique experience that’s photo-worthy. Boutique hotels are on the rise, even among chain hotel brands, as millennials would rather have what they consider an Instagrammable hotel, rather than a cheap one.

Not only this, but the majority of millennials plan their travels using content they find on Instagram and other social media websites. One in three people books vacations after falling in love with photos of a destination they see on Instagram.

Consumers are Using Social Media to Learn

Instagram has, to a certain extent, gone beyond giving users a place to show design ideas and inspire consumers. Instagram and Pinterest (Pinterest more so, of course) also serve as a DIY platform to help educate people – meaning the content has to do more than just look nice. Successful brands use both platforms to provide decorating tips, home remodeling, and more.

Fear of failure most certainly impacts someone’s likelihood of buying design related products and services – and using the platforms to instruct and educate can boost consumer confidence. Younger consumers admit they’re now seeking home decor items specifically for the fact that they would look good in photos on social media.

Though some of us are more willing than others to admit it, we make decisions based on our desire to curate a certain persona or look on social media. As such, this affects the way we design the spaces in our home and office, and even the clothes we wear. This desire, along with the open nature of social media has changed what we find attractive in everything from art to home decor and fashion.

But it goes one step further and influences our decisions about non-design related purchases, as we see when restaurants are able to entice customers with the beautifully styled platings they shown on social media, and the retail spaces brands create to fulfill our desire for an Instagrammable experience. What we used to believe was pretty because the popular advertisers had the ability to tell us what they wanted us to think was pretty has all be changed by social media – opening the doors for smaller businesses and influencers to change the way we think and feel about everything.

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