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11/12/2014 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

When did shop windows become media? In some ways they always have been - especially at this time of year, when the department stores use Christmas displays to showcase their creativity. But the rise of social media has promoted the role of windows within the marketing mix. In the past, the shoppers who pressed their noses to the glass outside Galeries Lafayette or Printemps simply gasped with delight, took a few photos, and went home. Now they snap pictures on their smartphones and share them globally. Shop windows are branded content, broadcast by consumers. Trust Burberry, the most digital of the luxury brands, to acknowledge and enhance this situation. Its sponsored Christmas windows at Printemps allow consumers to trigger thunderstorms and waggle umbrellas with their phones. Their screens can connect with cameras placed within the décor, enabling them to explore the miniature landscape.
Other retailers have realised that windows can be multimedia experiences. Barneys in New York worked with movie director Baz Luhrman, who brought live performances to its windows. Such investment pays off: in the UK, where shoppers gleefully tweeted the fairy-tale windows of Selfridges, research agency Shoppercentric reports that 19% of consumers say a Christmas display has prompted them to make a purchase. This year's interactive windows are a taste of Christmas future.

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