Whether you’re looking to add a physical retail space to your online business or generate buzz with a unique marketing opportunity, a pop-up shop can be an excellent option for your brand to reach a new segment of consumers.
A pop-up shop is a blend of marketing and sales techniques used to create a physical, temporary footprint for your brand. In this article, we will be discussing what exactly a pop-up shop is, how the benefits of a pop-up shop support a variety of brands and businesses and prime examples of successful pop-up shops.
Here’s what we’ll cover
What is a Pop-up Shop?
A pop-up shop is a temporary retail space designed to “pop up” for a short period of time to maximize sales, create a conversation, or utilize unused or unique spaces.
Pop-up shops are often referred to by other names such as temporary retail, flash retail location, or pop-up store. Pop up shops are not unique to any type of industry or variety of retail. The more specialized the pop-up shop is, the better it often performs.
Pop up shops have been around in significant cities since as early as the 1990s and typically last three to six months. Because these spaces are temporary, they are often most successful when located in a high foot traffic area like busy streets, malls and city centers.
Some brands even take this a step further and create even more unique locations for their pop up shops like within other retail locations, at large events like the Toronto Film Festival or in non-traditional event spaces
How do Pop-up Shops Support Businesses and Brands?
A pop-up shop is a great way to introduce your brand to new consumers and potential audiences. The primary goal of any pop-up shop is to increase brand awareness and help to drive sales.
While these may seem like simple enough goals, the effective execution of a pop up is far from easy. Pop-up shops require a clear, thoughtful plan and strategic goal setting to ensure that the pop-up shop’s overall objectives are met and contribute to the brand’s overall goals.
If you’re running a business entirely online or through ecommerce, a pop-up shop can showcase your products in a way that’s accessible for would-be-customers. It’s a great way to branch beyond the digital space and engage with your customers in an entirely new way.
Some of the primary benefits of running a pop-up shop for your business could include:
Connect with new and existing customers
A pop-up shop is a great way to engage with your customers through an omnichannel experience.
For businesses that sell their products primarily online, a pop-up shop can introduce your brand to clients who would otherwise be hesitant to buy products online. By integrating your online business model with an in-person shopping experience, brands can expand and strengthen a loyal customer base in a short period of time.
Build a conversation around your brand
A limited-time pop-up shop can do wonders when creating a sense of urgency for your customers.
With the promise of an exclusive, limited-time experience, a pop-up shop can help to drive traffic to your business during critical times of your sales cycle, such as launching new products, collections or significant campaigns. This type of buzz is an important marketing tool for building brand awareness as well as driving sales.
Seeing others outside of your community visiting your pop-up shop can also entice nearby pedestrians and non-customers to interact with your business, too. This form of social proof is visual, and helps encourage those who know nothing about your brand to learn more.
The sense of urgency, artificial scarcity, and the social proof being displayed by a pop-up shop all play on marketing psychology, which explains why pop-up shops are usually so sucessful.
Test a retail location
Another strategy for a pop-up shop location is to field test products, collections or even test the idea of having a physical retail location at all. This is a great way to test your consumer’s reaction to your brand without the risk of a long-term lease or investment.
Take advantage of busy seasons
A pop-up shop is an excellent way to maximize your sales during busy seasons – whatever those busy seasons may be for your brand! This season would be Black Friday and the holiday season for many brands; however, different industries might have varying busy seasons.
No matter your sales goals and timelines, a pop-up shop can be a great way to simplify the shopping experience for your customers. The holiday season is the busiest time in retail locations and malls, which exposes your brand to many consumers. In fact, a seasonal pop-up can turn a customer into a loyal all-year customer so that a pop-up shop can be an excellent customer lifetime value strategy.
Examples of Successful Pop-up Shop Campaigns
BirchBox, a beauty subscription box service, created a national pop-up shop tour to help test the idea of a permanent retail location for their subscription services.
A primarily online business, BirchBox created an in-person retail experience as part of their pop up shop model to help customers experience the brand in an entirely unique way.
Consumers were invited to create their own beauty box, test products at the “Try Bar,” and were treated to complimentary manicures and astrology readings. As a result of this national pop-up tour, BirchBox established its first permanent retail location in New York’s SoHo neighbourhood.
Creating a pop-up experiential marketing experience is another great way to utilize the pop-up model to your advantage. A great example of an experiential pop-up shop is the Dosist pop-up booth at the Toronto Film Festival.
While the Dosist cannabis products were not yet legal in Canada, the brand used the prime location at the internationally acclaimed event to build brand awareness and provide information on Dosist cannabis products’ benefits.
This successful pop-up event helped draw attention to the brand and launch the products into Canada once they became legal a few months later.
A slightly less traditional way of utilizing a pop-up shop is by offering space to small or local makers to feature their products within existing retail spaces. A great example of this is the West Elm Local initiative in all West Elm stores.
West Elm, a home decor retailer, offers local business and creators space in their stores to set up a small pop up shop on the weekends. This initiative is a minimum cost to the retailer and offers artisans the space to display and sell their work.
For many people, this type of unique pop-up opportunity draws in additional customers, increases brand awareness, helps promote West Elm to these independent creators’ communities, and helps align their brand philosophy.
Ikea Play Cafe
Another unique way to utilize a pop-up shop is to highlight an element of your business that might not be as well known.
For box furniture store Ikea, creating a pop-up space to highlight their cafe was a great success in showcases company values and lesser-known elements of their larger retail locations.
With a big focus on food, cooking, and entertaining, the Ikea Play Cafe was an experimental way to bring customers into a non-traditional space to learn more about its dining experience and commitment to defying conventions.
The Ikea Play Cafe was a pop-up cafe in Toronto that served Ikea’s traditional cafe food – meatballs, Swedish snacks, etc. – without having to visit the store. The pop-up cafe also featured cooking and dining houseware products for customers to try and purchase. This trendy, out of the box concept helped bring brand awareness and showcase a particular element on its overall marketing and sales strategies.
The Period Shop
Pop up shops can also have a significant corporate responsibility element and drive brand awareness and sales. Recently, Kotex launched a one-weekend pop-up shop in New York City designed to spread women’ during their period.
This pop-up shop featured comfort items like Kotex U products, ice cream, chocolate, and loungewear and including services like manicures for shoppers. Kotex even took the event one step further and donated proceeds to a women’s homeless shelter to help bring awareness and align their brand with a female-focused social justice issue.
Now that you understand the benefits and successful examples of pop-up shop marketing, you can best decide for your brand or business. While a pop-up shop is a great way to bring a temporary, physical space complement to your online business, it can also create significant buzz and organic marketing. Utilizing this unique and often out-of-the-box approach can help elevate your brand and help you reach new consumers and audiences.