Danone turned to French Bureau, a French agency specialized in innovation, to support them in the launch of a new brand. With the help of a pop-up venue called “Atlas, la Cantine du Monde,” the group is building a community around a variety of cultural and culinary events to celebrate Danone of the World, a brand-new range inspired by traditional recipes from India, Iceland, Greece, Lebanon and Turkey.
To find the perfect space, French Bureau enlisted the help of Storefront, who provided the agency with a two-story retail venue right in the heart of the French capital, on Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth. Here are some reflections on the successful initiative, from Alexis Ducrocq and Grégoire Naudin, Business Leads at French Bureau.
1. Why did you recommend that Danone open a pop-up space for the launch of its new brand, Danone of the World?
The Danone of the World range gives French consumers an opportunity to discover the flavors and cultures of countries that inspired the products. We wanted to build a community around values related to cultural awareness and exchange: to create a place where this community could actually get together and share experiences was paramount. Renting a space for a few days, weeks, or months is an ideal way to test a concept, because it reduces the risks involved when entering into a year-long rental agreement – it is a full-scale prototype! We started with a four-month rental agreement, and given the success of our first event, we chose to extend it for five more months (until the end of December). For us, having the option to take small steps makes it possible to do it simply and to let the place develop alongside the community that gathers there.
2. What criteria guided your choice of space?
Our choice was naturally focused on a space located in the heart of Paris, near République, which was easily accessible by car and public transport. Another tip to keep in mind: the size of the storefront and the proximity to features that are strategic, such as parking meters.
For the interior, certain challenges arose from the concept itself, such as needing to set up various areas and having an extra kitchen available. We had to visit several spaces, but with guidance from the team at Storefront, we ended up finding this two-story gem.
3. Why did opening their pop-up space, Atlas, la Cantine du Monde, represent a new opportunity for a global company such as Danone?
Because it allows large, established companies to learn what lies behind every successful start-up: flexibility and innovation. This cultural café, which epitomizes the Danone of the World range by uniting different cultures through regional cuisine, lets Danone provide its consumers with real, authentic experiences. People are pleasantly surprised to see that Danone is behind this initiative. The mission is a success: people attending our events come from all corners of the world, are between the ages of 7 and 77, and are students, employees, retirees, tourists, travelers…the list goes on. It’s an incredible variety of people that we have managed to bring together in a friendly place, to build a real sense of community.
Ultimately, this place allowed Danone to create a partnership with the startup Meet My Mama, whose values are in tune with the group’s, and even more so with the Danone of the World range. In truth, Meet My Mama brings together “mamas” from around the world to delight visitors with their authentic family cooking. Meet my Mama began their partnership with Danone by suggesting Wednesday evening “dinners of the world” and Sunday brunches at Atlas. Today Meet My Mama offers other formats, such as culinary workshops, and together we even organized events for the 2018 World Cup.
4. How can the success of a pop-up format be measured?
The pop-up store is a format that is fit for purpose and flexibility, with minimal constraints, but the main thing is to give meaning to what goes on inside it. It should also be kept in mind that measuring success depends on the objectives set by the group. For Atlas, la Cantine du Monde, the objective of the first 4-month lease was twofold: to see if we could build a community around our values and find a model of sustainable organization that allows us a chance to offer interesting events to this community for as long as possible. We got all the proof we needed – that’s why we extended our rental agreement through the end of the year!
Other factors also come into play: the R&D teams at Danone, for example, were able to come on site and gather valuable feedback from different people, including the cooks from Meet my Mama, about the first yogurts to be launched. These direct and honest discussions with the end consumer helped to refine Danone’s approach with respect to its product, something which is another important factor in success.
Finally, opening a physical space is a success in terms of the commitment that it allows us to create. Getting the attention of someone from the Internet era for more than 5 minutes is a major feat, whereas people who come to Atlas spend an average of 3 hours!