A Guide to Pop up Shops

What is a Pop Up Shop?

Pop up shops, a trend started in LA in the 1990’s show no signs of abating. The reasons for the steady increase in popularity could be attributed to the following market trends. Retailers who wish to avoid long term lease agreements find the agility and transient nature of pop ups an appealing proposition. Pop up shops provide the opportunity for brands to engage with their customers in a unique and exciting setting. Consumers find the pop up event type of marketing interesting, not only that, the exclusive and time limited nature of pop up stimulates the ‘fear of missing out’ trait amongst customers, thus ensuring a healthy footfall.

Why Do Brands Use Pop Up Retail?

Pop up is as important to big brands as to emerging brands, it creates an opportunity for innovative and refreshing retail approaches. It is also a useful tool in enabling ecommerce brands to test the water in a bricks and mortar setting without the expense of full commitment.

There are many ways in which brands explore creative popup shops, such as the ‘pop in’ store example, where the physical store is used to display example product, customers can try on sizes, and feel the quality and materiality, however it is not possible to take the physical product home there and then. Arrangements are made for the purchases to be delivered to the customer the next day. The benefits of this arrangement are reduced need for stock capacity, therefore smaller shop unit being appropriate, while having a physical store, albeit temporarily provides a forum for face to face customer interaction.

Examples of Brands Who Use Pop Ups

Pop up stores are no longer the pursuit of the entrepreneurial start-up operation on a shoe string budget, increasingly luxury brands are moving into this territory. In celebration of 80 years of Hermès silk scarves, a ‘laundromat pop up’ was commissioned as a PR stunt. The space, branded in Hermès signature orange colour from top to bottom provided a service whereby it reinvented peoples Hermès scarves by dip dyeing them a choice of five colours. Customers were also given the opportunity to purchase re editioned scarves from the brands 80 year catalogue of designs. The pop up then travelled the world, providing the perfect marketing tool for the brand globally.

Pop up stores also offer an opportunity to test the market, Pret a Manger launched its veggie outlet in Soho, London initially as a summer pop up in response to customer feedback requesting more vegan and vegetarian options. After the initial buzz surrounding the opening, it became clear that the consumers appetite for vegetarian food was more than a passing fad. Pret took the decision to make ‘Pret Veggie’ a permanent fixture, hotly followed by another one in London’s Shoreditch.

How to Launch a Product with a Pop Up Shop

Brands also use the temporary shop philosophy to create a buzz around a product launch. H&M Studio division explored this with a pop up cat walk show at the Tennis club de Paris during Paris Fashion week. Inviting celebrity guests, Alexa Chung, Lucky Blue Smith, Clémence Poésy and Sasha Lane, they transformed the club into an inviting luxurious pop up shop space. Simultaneously launching a ‘See Now, Buy Now’ ecommerce site, customers could watch the cat walk show live at studio.hm.com and via VR on H&M’s YouTube channel, additional excitement was provided by an exclusive performance by performance artist The Weeknd. Guests at the show and the online audience were able to make purchase immediately after the show in person and on line. There are many versions of pop up stores and it is clear that in today’s retail market they are all relevant. The challenge is to keep reinventing the concept so that remains fresh and enticing to global consumers young and old.