In coming to grips with the pop-up phenomenon, it is useful to think through the numerous applications that the pop-up concept offers. Pop-up stores offer traditional retailers new locations and demographics to reach, exciting ways for brands to collaborate, a lucrative tool for e-commerce businesses to use, and a promising avenue for the service sector. But they are also relevant in relation to educational enterprises. Let’s take a look at three different ways pop-ups and education mix.

  • Popping up on campus

College students have long been a target for brands to build sustainable relationships with, yet it’s only in the past few years that brands have been experimenting with on campus pop-up stores. Recognizing that some universities may have concerns about brands infringing in their space, companies that are successful usually combine their campaigns with an educational or academic element, offer lessons on social issues or make a generous donation to the school, bookstore or student organization that hosts their venue.

Not so much to sell a product, but in an effort to recruit summer interns, Solve created an outdoor pop-up agency at various universities in the States, where students could show off their skills during a 5-minute internship. Top performers were interviewed on the spot. This initiative tripled the amount of applications for Solve’s internship position.

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  • Pop-ups as a platform for empowerment

Of course, universities or other educational enterprises can equally use pop-up venues to reach across borders to recruit students or offer temporary courses. A few years back, Donegan and Paine set up the PopUp Business School and toured the UK focusing on low income earners, single parents, disabled people and ex-offenders with the aim to teach business and enterprise skills.

Similarly, social networking platform Bumble set up the Beehive pop-up in New York, to provide a space for female thinkers, artists and entrepreneurs to build relationships and discuss topics such as health, technology and education while enjoying snacks and light entertainment.


Another application that fits this category is increasingly seen in the service sector, where banks such as TD Bank and PNC Bank have set up pop-venues to reach out to customers, introduce new technologies and assist people in learning how to work with new banking apps and ATM features.

  • Pop-ups as a learning experience

Yet another educational application of the pop-up store is less about sales and more about the learning process in setting up a pop-up store itself and the relationships built through it. In 2014, for example, a group of 18 students studying Supported Programmes at Fife’s College’s Cupar Campus in the UK, set up a pop-up store to show off their developing retail skills and raise money for charity.

In Australia, following an initiative from RMIT University, the Business Enterprise Unit undertook the Pop-up Shop Project with the aim of showcasing and facilitating the development of small and micro-businesses. It allowed start-ups to launch products to their targeted markets while being mentored by professionals and it served as a platform for networking between student and graduate entrepreneurs.

As the pop-up industry continues to develop, more applications are coming into focus. From this quick review we can see how pop-up shops, because of their temporary, flexible and versatile nature, are relevant in relation to educational enterprises. Whether looking at it from the perspective of a university, head of an educational program, a group of aspiring entrepreneurs or a business seeking to reach out to students, the pop-up concept provides ample opportunities. It invites organizations to think outside the box and explore new possibilities to further promote their brand.


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