Setting up a pop-up store can be significantly cheaper than opening a traditional retail space. It allows you to connect to customers, venture into different locations and test the market for new products. But beyond these obvious and widely recognized perks, the pop-up store journey is a chance for your brand to stretch the imagination and get truly creative.
Brands constantly compete for attention and pop-up stores provide a great way to attract and secure it. All around us we are constantly bombarded with imagery, slogans, short-lived hypes and fast-paced changes. Because of their immersive nature, pop-up stores make it possible for there to be a deep dialogue between your brand and customer.
Maybe you want to be mobile and take your pop-up truck from town to town. Or, on the contrary, you want to get exclusive and open a limited-edition, invite-only, pop-up venue at a secret location. Perhaps your next pop-up takes customers on a multi-sensory journey, where music, scents, flavors and visual effects work to communicate your brand’s identity in a unique way. Whatever it is, start with the belief that possibilities are endless.
Stretching the imagination…
In June 2016 Bark & Co did just that. In an attempt to woo dogs and their owners, for one week the company opened a venue in Manhattan, where dogs and their owners were able to play around with a variety of toys while a special device tracked the dogs’ behavior and calculated their preferences for their owners to see.
Additionally, in an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle, organic food chain Dohtonbori, with creative directors Ikkyu and Junya Sato of Kaibutsu, set up a pharmacy-inspired vitamin pop-store called Fast Food Aid. Responding to an overconsumption of fast food and resulting form of malnutrition among adolescents in Harajuku, junk food lovers were invited to visit the pop-up store where they could exchange their receipt (after consuming a pizza, bowl of ramen or burger) for a customized bottle of supplements to make up for nutrients missed. Although this was a non-profit initiative, the goal was to educate visitors and indirectly promote Dohtobori’s restaurant.
Another food-related promotional pop-up project was launched by Birds Eye, a frozen food company, in collaboration with Slice. Building on the Instagram food photography hype, a temporary restaurant was opened in London and other locations in the UK where customers could pay their bill with a picture of their meal posted on their Instagram with the hashtag #BirdsEyeInspirations.
This initiative was the world’s first pay-by-picture pop-up restaurant chain. It served to inspire original recipes for consumers to cook in their own kitchen. In an effort to challenge perceptions of Birds Eye’s frozen products, the venue was filled with natural ingredients featured in each of the recipes creating a unique multi-sensory experience. The pop-up generated over 3.5 million Twitter impressions and 200 pieces of press coverage including The Metro, The Sun and The Daily Telegraph.
Another way pop-up shops can underscore your brand’s identity and serve to make a statement became clear when Scandinavian clothing retailer COS partnered up with design studio Snarkitecture to create an impressive design-centric experience in downtown L.A. When visitors entered the store they were confronted with a mirage of mirrors sculptural objects that warp perception, encouraging visitors to roam around and experience different perspectives. The venue was COS’ way to go beyond merely stating its passion for design and a modernist lifestyle, but to actually show it in action.
This shows how creativity should be the driving force when considering your next pop-up store. Whether targeting pets, rather than owners, tackling a social problem, challenging perceptions and boosting exposure or making a statement to reaffirm your brand’s core identity, pop-ups allow you to compete more effectively for attention, create the space for a conversation between brand and customer and take your brand to a higher level.