International Market Square

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Integrated Marketing Campaign
Role: Strategy


With over 170 unique businesses, 60 showrooms and 65 designers in residence, International Market Square is the largest home and commercial interior design marketplace in the Upper Midwest. This epicenter of design expertise was facing a significant challenge: foot traffic in the building had declined, leading management to conclude that customers were having trouble navigating the multi-story facility.

Our research discovered something different:  The decline in traffic inside the building was the result of a bigger problem that originated outside the building. Simply stated, consumers mistakenly believed the IMS facility was not open to the public and consequently shopped elsewhere.

Further complicating matters was a recent shift in consumers seeking interior design assistance. Baby Boomers, who had historically been the majority of IMS’ consumers, were shopping at IMS less frequently, while the facility’s GenX customers had increased significantly, which necessitated a shift in branding and marketing.


  • History of International Market Square 
  • Comparative analysis of similar design centers throughout the U.S.
  • Interior design and residential architecture trends
  • Interviews with IMS designers and merchants
  • Interviews with affluent, multi-generational consumers
  • Economic trends in Minnesota and across U.S.


  • Recent recession made it socially unacceptable to “want” luxury goods
  • IMS target consumer had shifted from Baby Boomers (‘home is a demonstration of material success’) to GenX (‘home is a place of self-expression and refuge’)


To mitigate confusion about the purpose and function of IMS, and to attract the new GenX consumer base, we proposed a complete re-brand built around the concept of ‘wanting’ as an act of aspiration and optimism and home as a place of comfort and individual expression.

The new platform, called “Live Exceptionally,” also focused heavily on the personalities of IMS – its community of talented and compassionate designers.

Finally, to re-introduce the public to IMS and bring more consumers into the building, our team produced six short films inspired by design, and IMS screened them at a party attended by 850 local influencers (which exceeded goals by 250%).


  • Website
  • Print Ads 
  • Branded Content
  • Events (e.g. ‘film festival’ held at IMS facility to screen branded video content)


Affluent (<$150k per year) GenX (45-55yo) 


Print and digital media favored by affluent midwestern consumers


  • Reduced IMS marketing budget by 75%
  • Increased leasing traffic and income
  • Increased web hits from several thousand to nearly 70,000 per year, averaging 3 minutes and 5 pages per visit

Branded content screened at IMS film festival

Branded content screened at IMS film festival

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