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Photo Credit: Bluewater

Pop-up stores as we know them have been with us since the late ‘90’s, but this fun retailing format has assumed a new relevance in recent times by becoming an antidote to the failing high street.

A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary, the idea is that something ‘pops up’ one day, then may have disappeared the next or is relocated and appears elsewhere.

Recent examples have been The Dollar Shave Club London pop-up in January 2017, where customers were able to test the products before their subscription service went live and YSL Beauty with a social media-focused pop-up ‘universe’ at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2. This tied into the ‘retailtainment’ trend, with free makeovers, ‘tattooing’ sessions, virtual make–up try-on Ipads, a GIF photo booth and ‘ATM machine’ that dispensed free Black Opium samples.

Benefit Cosmetics also lived up to its quirky reputation with a space pod pop-up across the UK to debut the launch of its new ‘top secret product’.

Pop Up’s don’t necessarily need to sell anything, and their aim could be to increase brand awareness and create an emotional connection with the consumer.   One such was the Marc Jacobs Daisy Pop-Up Tweet Shop, which dealt in ‘social currency’.  The idea was that once you showed your Tweet to a member of staff, you would then receive the corresponding Marc Jacob’s product.  A great way to stir up interest and buzz on social media.

The other benefits are numerous, as they are more affordable than permanent spaces due to their size and temporary nature.   Lower rents can often be negotiated, as landlords prefer not to have empty properties.   The short-term nature of the commitment is especially good for start-up businesses.   Pop ups can adapt to business needs and can open when traffic & sales are high, and close in slower months – so they offer great flexibility.

They can be used to try out new products, locations and demographics, educate consumers, get real time feedback or even offload stock.   What is more, the temporary nature creates a ‘get it while it lasts’ urgency.  Exclusivity and scarcity can often prompt the shopper to take action!

When & where can you have a pop-up store?  Well, pretty much anytime and anywhere!   From shopping malls to the high street, in empty retail spaces, in stores, galleries or bars, in stations and airports, at festivals, on beaches and even on board a ship.  There have even been pop ups underwater and on the side of a mountain.

Things to look out for include finding the right location and securing the right lease length at a good price.  There are sometimes long contract periods on technology such as POS systems.  They need to be fitted out to look attractive and creative, as they need to maximise their exposure and impact in a short timescale.

Done right they are a creative blast of energy that can drive sales and PR, and leave the consumer looking for more.


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Beauty Pop Ups – Retailtainment in Action