Japanese camera brand Fujifilm recently opened what it bills as its first ever experience centre, a ‘photography playground’ spanning three floors in London’s Covent Garden. Innovation researcher Charlie Lloyd headed down to the House of Photography to see for himself what Fujifilm is offering its customers at this new space.
I’ve never been to a camera store quite like Fujifilm’s new House of Photography in Covent Garden. As a consumer, there is a huge amount going on across the store’s three floors to keep the casual browser entertained and to satisfy photography enthusiasts and brand loyalists alike. As an innovation researcher, I was impressed to see the store bringing together so many of the features we’ve seen emerge in experiential retail, and give them a unique a twist that only a camera manufacturer like Fujifilm can deliver.
Social media-focused product trial
The single most striking thing about the store is the extent to which it is geared around social media. On the first floor, the store’s Social Studios invites visitors to shoot and film their own content, using equipment they can borrow from the ‘Kit Stop’ and various props that are available in the studio area. On the ground floor, a smaller space called the Midnight Studio is available for visitors to trial cameras’ abilities to take darker photos. At basement level, a more comprehensive studio is available for hire, which can be booked and paid for via the store’s app. We’ve seen lots of stores encourage customers to share content to social media in-store, but Fujifilm has taken the opportunity to make this just as much about product trial.
The House of Photography app is also the customer’s means of booking a range of other services throughout the store. Users can book a GFX Expert Session where they can sit down with a knowledgeable associate and discuss the specifications of Fujifilm’s more advanced products. They can also book a place at one of the store’s seminars or workshops on different aspects of photography, or hire out equipment, the cost of which will be deducted from the price if the customer wishes to purchase at the end of the hire.
Having the app is beneficial in another sense too, as by signing up to the app and becoming a member, the consumer gains access to the Long Acre Lounge, an area of the basement floor where members can take a break and socialise with one another.
Servicing multiple customer missions
The store struck the right balance in allowing customers to choose their own journeys; there were plenty of very helpful associates, but information is also displayed on multiple screens throughout the space, allowing customers to find things out for themselves if they prefer to shop that way. One screen for example, asks users a few simple questions about their lifestyle and interests before recommending a camera to suit their needs.
Other areas of the store cater more specifically to other missions and types of customer. A scrapbooking area offers all the materials and decorations needed to create a scrapbook, and they can be made there and then as kiosks are available to print off the customer’s photos from their camera or phone. Another area focuses on gifting, displaying everything from conventional gift ideas like photo frames to more out-there suggestions like jigsaw puzzles made from photographs.
Throughout the store, there are a number of small touches which root it to its place. Digital screens under the tagline ‘Your London’ display various images captured across the capital, while customers are invited to leave a token of themselves by adding their own photo to the Instax wall on the ground floor.
All in all, Fujifilm seems to offer something for everyone without cheapening its offering at the higher end of the market. The ground floor seems to have been designated the space for fun and exploration, while more serious product consultations and vlog shoots can be carried out upstairs, perusing the regularly updated mini photo exhibition on the main wall on the way.
In fact, I explored all three floors of the House of Photography, but I couldn’t find any negatives.