Pop-Up Shops: The New Brand Experience Tools

Category: Event Marketing

The pop-up shop was once almost exclusively the domain of food vendors and independent retailers, but that's not the case any more. These days, you're just as likely to see a big-brand pop-up shop set up in a temporary space, because these big name brands wish to create unique and innovative retail design experiences.

All over the country, unused high-street retail spaces are being turned into pop-up shops that offer much more than a retail experience, both to the consumer and the retailer. These small spaces are more popular than ever, and big brands like Nokia, BRC, and Louis Vuitton are scrambling to get in on this potentially lucrative new kind of venture.

The Pop-up Shop as a Marketing Tool

The concept of the pop-up shop is a simple one, but used effectively, it's much more than just a retail space; it's also a form of temporary advertising that's providing a new avenue for retailers that have already reached their limit in terms of conventional forms of marketing. The fact is that internet retailers are now threatening high street stores and pop up shops are a new way for them to fight back. The beauty of the pop-up shop is that it is by definition a temporary venture—a short, sharp blast of advertising that is also highly memorable, and creates interest and demand by virtue of being limited in duration. It's proving to be an advantage for owners of vacant spaces as well, with organisations like Transport for London renting out vacant spaces on a regular basis, and even designating “permanent” pop-up spaces at Old Street Station and Piccadilly Circus, which retailers can rent on a temporary basis for as little as one week.

This concept is proving a useful marketing tool not just for conventional retailers, but also for online-only brands, and even celebrities. Chef Jamie Oliver, for example, created a pop-up space named for his YouTube channel, Drinks Tube. The shop didn't sell any products—but people could use a social media hashtag, #CocktailRequest, to request a cocktail, and then watch it being created.

Another stand-out example is the fashion brand Marc Jacobs, which used the concept to promote a newly-released fragrance. Open for just three days, the Marc Jacobs pop-up shop invited visitors to tweet about the store in exchange for free gifts. Then there was Maria Sharapova's “Sugarpova” shop, open for the week before Wimbledon, to publicise the tennis star's line of sweets.

The New Pop-Up Industry

The pop-up shop has become such a popular concept over the past couple of years that there's now a whole new industry developing around this novel retail experience. For example, there are now companies such as Appear Here, solely dedicated to locating properties for retailers that want to rent vacant spaces on a temporary basis.

According to Richard Lim, head of business information at the British Retail Consortium, the new trend is indicative of the high degree of innovation that's always been a part of the retail industry. The BRC has already partnered with EE to improve the range of technology available at pop-up retail shops, a move that will allow different types of retailers to use these spaces. In a "pop-up mall" called Boxpark in Shoreditch, organisations as diverse as Gap, the Guardian, and STA Travel are using spaces created with old shipping containers, highlighting both the temporary nature and the innovation that's an integral part of the pop-up movement.

Posted 25th July, 2015

< Back to articles
pop up shop retail branding retail experience