Although most U.S. consumers may be prone to think of pop-ups as those seasonal stores such Halloween City – the notion of them are becoming more mainstream among influential brands. The overall concept is win/win for retailers and landlords. Retailers and brands aren’t confined with long-term single location commitments and landlords are able to rent out their vacant space that otherwise would not be generating any revenue. Back in 1983/84 the masterminds behind Halloween City saw this potential with vacant plaza space and temporary sales of Halloween products. Last year there were about 1200 Halloween City “stores” around the US and Canada.
Pop-ups are bigger than Halloween City
The first true pop-up retail store to make “waves” in the U.S. was Target when it took over a 220-foot-long boat for a two-week campaign on the Hudson River that coincided with Black Friday in November of 2002.
Another brand to take on pop-ups was Kate Spade’s sister brand Saturday back in 2013. Although an overall short-lived brand, Saturday sought to leverage the storefront during its brick-and-mortar construction.
During the 12 weeks of construction on the New York City Saturday store, the company decided to activate the storefront to sell from. Customers were able to order the outfit showcased in the window on a touchscreen right there. It was also available to be delivered to a New York City apartment within an hour. Very interesting and promising concept in 2013 as two things were being tested in the market. The brand was leveraging unused storefront space and rapid delivery.
Why aren’t we doing this?
As Mare puts it “pop-ups can be one day or one year; the more unexpected it is the more your apt to have people come to see.”
Another benefit to pop-ups for brands and retailers is with experiential storytelling. Pop-ups give way to another channel for a brand’s message. Enabling more store brand ambassadors with this temporary and unexpected channel to experience the brand, their products and their message. Pop-ups also allow brands and retailers to “freshen” up their perceived position in the market and create instant buzz. A great example of this was with Payless Shoes and the launch of “Palessi”. The budget shoe retailer opened a fake luxury shoe store to see how much they could get social media influencers to pay for a $20 pair of shoes. By showcasing the bargain shoes with outrageous markups against a chic backdrop, Payless was able to convince shoppers their product was high-end. This pseudo brand and pop-up got people talking and interested in Payless. Social media influencers who were “tricked” would never have stepped foot into a Payless store, but after the experiment more folks were interested to do so. The campaign was funny and all over social media – it enhanced the brand in a completely different way.
For more on the pop-up store concept and how best to create one, read How to create a successful pop-up store.