Pop up stores have been en vougue for probably half a decade now. In fact, the Centre for Business Economic Research estimates that at any one moment, there are over 10,000 such stores in the UK alone; according to the same research, the industry employs 26,000 people in the UK already and 75% of us will visit at least one this year.
It’s clear then that pop ups are firmly part of the brand toolkit already.
Yet despite this, within most major high street brands you’ll find a distinct lack of clarity among senior leaders about who ‘owns’ the pop up. Is it a marketing tactic? A retail ops one? Is there a property team involved?
Behind this crisis of ownership lies a simple question: Why launch a pop up store?
It’s a simple question; but one which seems to have been empirically unanswered. In fact, I’d argue that some of the most well-publicised and prevalent pop ups in the UK in recent years have had the least clear sense of purpose.
The beauty of the channel is that pop ups can be so versatile and multi-faceted, that there are lots of different (and valid) reasons for launching one. There’s also a pretty good chance that a pop up activation will deliver more than just one objective – also great. But its critical to be clear and up front about what those aims are; they drive the marketing, operations and ultimately, the success of the pop up itself.
So here are 5 great reasons to launch a pop up store:
- Make Some Money!
The financials of retailing have changed almost beyond recognition in the last few years; and so too have the economics of pop up retailing.
Rent – in some of the most exclusive areas – is falling rapidly, while at the same time increasing numbers of consumers are more likely to visit and buy from interesting experiences (around 78%)
With the right exposure and creativity (see below), pop up experiences can drive revenue and profit, either through being a chargeable experience or retailing product. Often it can be both these things combined.
Its time for brands to start seeing pop ups as profit centres, not ‘marketing spend!’
- Test out a retail store
With the above point in mind, pop ups are a great way of starting to understand your retail proposition. I mean this in a number of ways; perhaps an online-only retailer might want to start thinking about how to retail to offline customers; perhaps an existing high street retailer might be thinking about a new store / relocation to a new area. Pop ups allow an almost risk free way of testing out an area for a store; there is little brand risk, as consumers expect from the start that you will close relatively quickly, and its not financially prohibitive.
- Put your Brand / Product on the Map
Pop ups are the perfect showcase for a new brand or product; you can deploy fantastically creative experiences, outside of the rigidity of normal brand guidelines, which can drive effective PR and social awareness. A creative and engaging pop up store can do more to make the product a memorable one for consumers than any other channel. The Magnum Store, for example, which started life as a short term pop up, is almost more iconic than the product itself now.
- New Consumers – reach & remember
Customers are tough today; they’re more time precious than ever before, and over marketed to. Despite the billions now being invested in digital advertising, less than 2% of people can remember an ad they saw yesterday on social media, let alone be influenced by it.
Pop ups, and the impactful experiences that can be created within them, allow brands to connect with consumers in a much more meaningful and memorable way.
Pop ups are a great format for trialling things and seeing how they work with consumers. For example, they can be a good environment to test new products, concepts, offers, technologies or brand communications. As above, consumers understand the concept, and therefore will forgive some imperfection, and will even more actively give you precious, direct insight. Before Veggie Pret began to be rolled out, for example, Pret opened one test outlet in London and specifically asked customers to feed back on the food; in 6 weeks, they received over 48,000 comment cards, which shaped the proposition prior to expansion.