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Pop-up Stores: Redefining Retail Marketing Strategies
A canvas for retailers to experiment with new ideas, products, or markets, the pop-up concept is proliferating across retail sectors, fuelled by its low-risk, low-cost proposition.
24 February, 2021

The marketing sector is, by nature, ever-changing. Playing up to its irresistible lure of exclusivity to customers, and presenting brands with unmatched opportunities for experimentation, pop-up stores are well on its way to becoming the retail segment’s model of the future. 

Pop-up stores are retail spaces designed to be temporary – typically lasting anywhere from 3 days to 3 months. This allows companies to sell seasonal goods, take creative risks, and interact with their customers to get direct feedback. In other cases, popups are simply designed for visual appeal, used as a marketing tool to create viral social media buzz. 

A canvas for retailers to experiment with new ideas, products, or markets, the pop-up concept is proliferating across retail sectors, fuelled by its low-risk, low-cost proposition. Luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton have credited pop-ups as being a key element to its strategic success, with the label driving a bulk of profits for French conglomerate, LVMH. Pop-up stores have also paved the way for local artists and emerging online businesses to enter the market and step into the world of physical retail. From record-breaking Glossier sales to the launch of the world’s first digital clothing store, the spectacle of pop-ups have become the defining retail concept of this generation.

The Benefits 

1. Product Experimentation

With much creative freedom, pop-ups give brands with existing stores a platform to test new ideas for permanent locations, whilst online-only sellers can get a glimpse into how consumers would respond to brick-and-mortar. Alternatively, it gives different brands the unique opportunity to collaborate with one another, expanding their reach to a greater scope of customers. For example, pop-ups have resulted in bold collaborations between Fendi, one of Europe’s oldest fashion houses, together with Joshua Vibes, a self-taught artist – culminating to open a wildly popular cafe in Harrods. 

2. Test New Revenue Streams

Pop-ups can be used as effective testing grounds to see if certain products or concepts resonate well with the target audience. Compared to conducting traditional – and often costly – market research, the versatility and low financial commitment of pop-ups allow companies to gain more meaningful customer feedback. This is particularly useful for brands looking to expand overseas, allowing them to gage business interest and revenue potential across different locations. 

3. Brand Awareness

Nothing drives sales more than positive publicity. Yet with the market more saturated than ever, companies are under higher pressure to deliver successful marketing campaigns to survive and stay relevant to the lucrative millennial demographic. The ease of technology has significantly lowered barriers to entry, making it that much harder to be a competitive player in oversaturated markets. In today’s retail landscape, it’s crucial to engage shoppers both online and offline through multichannel sales strategies, and pop-ups present the perfect low-risk opportunity for businesses to do so. 

4. Shopping Experience

An age-old tactic loved by retailers, spontaneity and surprise are the lifeblood of any brand. Pop-ups are temporary by nature – automatically drawing customers in through the appeal of scarcity. A study found that 78% of millennials would choose spending on a desirable experience, rather than goods. From fragrance exhibitions, selfie factories, and even ice rinks, we’re seeing retailers catering their brand to wider audiences through the provision of memorable experiences. This appeal generates the buzz, attracts new customers, and eventually drives footfall. With retail giants and small business owners all vying for spots in the limelight, the incentive for innovation is second to none. 

5. Cost Effectiveness

With the high cost of commercial spaces in mind, short-term leases are far more appealing to businesses. Factoring in budget, the amount of merchandise being sold, and the overall experience, pop-ups can easily be set up in vacant store spaces, mall kiosks, or booths. They’re approximately 80% cheaper than traditional retail storefronts due to shorter rental periods and lower overhead, massively cutting back business operation costs. This significantly lowers financial risks, paving the way for entrepreneurs to test-market an idea without investing a lot of money, and providing a way to gather valuable information directly from customers.

Deputy Editor

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