Pop-Up Stores: Changing the Face of Retail?

In 2010, Procter & Gamble opened a pop-up store in Manhattan that attracted over 14,000 visits in ten days from curious customers. The success of this model has led to pop-up stores being viewed more and more as a way of advertising in a more interactive way than what television or print can offer.

[protected]A pop-up store is a marketing concept that involves opening a temporary shop. As the name indicates, the trend consists of popping-up one day, then closing anywhere from one day to several weeks later. 

They first appeared in the United States for seasonal products such as Halloween or Christmas items. Marketers soon adopted the approach and at the end of the 1990’s and beginning of the 2000’s, companies such as Swatch and Comme des Garcons began the trend of opening pop-up stores across the US and Europe. 

These shops, though only temporary, can build up interest by enhancing consumer exposure. The goal of this approach is to surprise the customer, making the brand feel unique and exclusive. “Pop-up retail allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customers, as well as generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity.”[1]

Some experts believe that pop-up stores are mostly useful for their marketing and promotional awareness rather than for making money.[2] In fact, the previously mentioned P&G pop-up store gave away all of its products for free, from candles to shampoo and food, while also offering a customer-focused experience with beauty therapists and make-up artists offering their services. Though a cost, the results in terms of image, customer loyalty and attracting new customers were considered worth the investment.

The business goals of pop-up stores can be very divergent: from establishing brand awareness to introducing and testing a new product, selling overstocked products or just creating a buzz and interacting with customers. Though at first mainly reserved to clothes brands, pop-up stores are now transcending industries and target groups. Cosmetics, clothing, shoes, restaurants, nightclubs, cars and even most recently music with the opening of a Bob Dylan pop-up stores in New York – pop-up is definitely picking up pace.

The marketing trend is growing so rapidly that ad agencies specialized in pop-up retail are being created, such as Vacant, which has elaborated pop-up campaigns for WeSC, The Beatles, Puma and Mini Cooper among others. There potential in pop-up has resulted in even some real estate agents established a niche version: in a down economy, landlords are willing to lease short-term while estate agents are looking to cater to new customers.

According to the Specialty Retail Report, in 2010, pop-up retail was responsible for $8 billion in sales globally. This figure has continued growing rapidly. All in all, the consensus is that temporary retail is here to stay, whether a brand is hoping to reach new customers or simply create a buzz.[/protected]