We asked 1000 UK consumers to tell us what they think about branded pop up experiences...

Pop Ups are an integral part of a brand’s marketing toolkit; with many resulting in great impact in recent years. 

But what do consumers really want from a pop up? And where’s the value to your brand in investing in one? 

We wanted to find out – so we’ve compiled the first research of its kind into this particular sector. Read on for some of our key findings, as well as the tips and considerations for creating your brand's own successful pop up experience. 

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Maybelline Pop-Up by iD Agency

Maybelline Pop-Up by iD Agency

1. What's the Opportunity?

Whether you’re an up and coming challenger brand or an established household name, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with customers. Traditional advertising is in decline, people aren’t watching TV or shopping; and if you’re an online-only giant, it's even harder to build emotional loyalty with a savvy consumer who can go to a competitor in a couple of clicks.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. The human desire for positive, memorable experiences is both constant and growing, and consumers are increasingly willing to spend their money on them. Experience-building has rightly become an integral part of many brands’ marketing strategies as they look to create more organic content and reach customers in deeper, more meaningful ways.  

Pop ups provide the perfect opportunity for generating these experience based connections with consumers. Not only is there a massive addressable audience – 63% of our consumers had visited one before with 20% ‘definitely’ planning to in the next 12 months – they’re also commercially smart for many reasons.

Pop ups give you the chance to inexpensively experiment in a new location, test a new product or concept, and place your brand in a fresh context. It also gives you the chance to directly interact with consumers, get your products or services into their hands, and ultimately, drive value and engagement.

2. How Popular are Pop-Ups?

63% of our consumers said they’d visited a pop up before, with 44% doing so in the past 12 months.

This number is likely to increase in 2020, with a significant 19% saying they would ‘definitely’ visit a pop up in the next 12 months, and another 31% saying they ‘probably’ would.

Not too surprisingly, Gen Zs (18-24) are the biggest fans – 36% put themselves in the ‘definitely’ crowd, with another 35% saying they 'probably' would. This presents a massive opportunity for anyone actively trying to reach this group, not to mention the importance of future-proofing your brand by engaging the customers of tomorrow.

Whatever your product or service, there’s a massive market of consumers actively wanting to engage with pop ups in the coming year. And if your brand isn’t in that space, you could miss out on the opportunity to tap into this audience.

3. Which Sectors are Winning at Pop-Ups?

When most people think of pop ups, what probably springs to mind are brands with a physical object to sell - beauty, fashion, food and drink for example.  

But should we be thinking more innovatively about what pop ups can do?

On the one hand, our research supports that these brands are still the most popular; food & drink came out on top with 31% of those considering visiting a pop up in the next year naming this sector as their go-to choice. Fashion, Consumer Tech and Beauty followed in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.

So if your brand is in one of these sectors, it's worth considering that there's a significant audience out there actively looking for these kind of brand experiences. And as we'll highlight more below, pop ups are a surefire way of reaching new customers who are likely to go on to become true brand advocates and repeat purchasers. 

Another consideration is the type of audience you're hoping to tap into. For example, the increasingly unreachable Gen Zs were more likely to be interested in Consumer Tech and Sportswear & Fitness - so don't let your competitor get to them first. 

But what about brands without that physical product to sell? Travel was the consistent lowest pick across all groups, however we feel this actually points to a much bigger opportunity. Consumers aren't likely to have been to or seen many pop ups from the travel and leisure sector; but with some creativity and innovation, this is an uncrowded space that a brave enough brand could step forward and own.

Charlotte Tilbury Pop Up by iD Agency

Charlotte Tilbury Pop Up by iD Agency

4. How are Consumers Discovering Pop-Ups?

Of the 63% who’d visited a pop up before, we asked how they came to hear about it.

In the digital era, it was interesting to see that word of mouth is still the biggest driver, with 30% hearing about the pop up through a friend or family member.

Facebook and Google Search came in second and third, while Instagram finished in a surprisingly low 6th place - though this does rise to joint 4th place amongst 18-24 year olds. This was alongside Podcasts, which while not yet seeing much traction with the 35+ age group, is an increasingly engaged-with channel amongst Gen Zs.

12% of our consumers discovered the pop up simply by walking past, showing how having a physical retail space gives you that opportunity to engage with people who previously might not have. However, this stat also demonstrates the importance of picking the right location; ensure your pop up is somewhere your target audience can’t miss! 

Ultimately, consumers still mostly discover brands by seeing them physically. So whether your brand's product or service is online or offline, creating a pop up can be a hugely valuable way of getting it in front of people in a positive and memorable way. 

5. What Do They Want From The Pop-Up When They Are There?

So you’ve got them through the door. Now what?

On average, consumers we surveyed spent 13 minutes at pop ups they’d visited. Now, on the one hand, think of all that time you have with a captive consumer – the average consumer spends just 4 seconds looking at a digital ad so you get nearly 200 times more interaction time to land your message or your product. But then again, imagine if the experience was SO amazing, fun, enjoyable or informative in your pop up that we could keep a consumer there for 20 minutes? Or 30? The opportunities for brands are endless.

So how do you keep them as engaged as possible, helping to double or triple that 13 minutes figure?

The biggest attraction according to our research was ‘the opportunity to test or try new products’, followed by ‘access to exclusive or discounted products’, and finally ‘taking part in a new or exciting experience’.

This serves as a sensible reminder to brands that consumer still care about the product – and a good deal – as much as they do having a great time in your pop up.

On the other hand, our consumers listed ‘an unusual or interesting experience’ as the second most important factor when they’re actually in the pop us, suggesting brands should attract with new exclusive products, innovation and discounted offers, but deliver an interesting, memorable experience when they’re actually there.

Consumers also told us that ‘Location’ and ‘Friendly, helpful staff’ were key for them in a pop up experience.. Your people are crucial to brand, and it’s essential you have staff that truly represent the values and personality you want to convey.

Finally, 79% of people made a purchase, rising up to 87% amongst Gen Zs. It’s likely that the temporary nature of a pop up encourages people to be a bit freer with their cash, not wanting to miss out on an exclusive opportunity or product.

6. What's the Effect on the Brand?

One of the most common questions we get from brands is how they can determine the value of a pop up experience? It’s a particularly tough thing to do when set against the clickable measurability of digital marketing. Selling products or tickets is often a big part, but does it do anything to raise overall brand awareness and loyalty?

Our research found that, unequivocally, physical pop up experiences drive brand loyalty and engagement, and repeat purchase of your product. 95% of respondents who had visited a pop up claimed it had had a positive impact on their perception of the brand, with another 73% saying that it had made them want to see or hear more from the brand in question.

Even more importantly, 61% went on to buy from the brand again; a great indication of the ongoing value in pop up experiences. Particularly for brands without a physical retail space, pop ups can provide an opportunity for customers to get a real understanding and feel for your product or service in a way that they can’t online.



7. Delivering ROI

Our mission at iD is to help brands re-think the role of experiential marketing, letting it play a more commercial role in their strategy. The better the experience, the more people will pay for it, and this is no different for pop ups. 58% of our consumers surveyed stated they’d be happy to pay to visit one, with the average expected ticket price coming to £19.17.

This was even higher amongst Gen Zs, of which 70% would pay to visit one, at an average of £19.51. Building a pop up is a big investment, but it’s clear there’s plenty of opportunity to make them self-liquidating. Whether through pre-sold tickets or the products and experiences you sell in-store, there are a number of different avenues to recoup costs and drive revenue.  



iD's 6 Top Tips for Planning a Pop-Up

1. Be Strategic

This might seem obvious, but there’s a nuanced interconnectivity between the audience you want to target, and the best location / activation mechanism for doing so. The areas with the biggest footfall might be the best location for your pop up; but very often might not generate the best results for your brand. Invest time and energy in really thinking through the best plan and strategy for your pop up to ensure it brings great return.

2. Focus on the Objectives

Really think about who your pop up is targeting; and how you can best capture their attention. What do you want the pop up to do for your brand and for these consumers? Are you interested in driving sales? Creating a fantastic buzz about your brand? Raising awareness? Any and all of these objectives (and many more!) are valid, but should be the guiding lens through which decisions about your pop up are taken.

3. Location

The choice of where your pop up is based is probably the single most important decision you’ll make. Not only will it have a huge impact on your visitor numbers, it will also likely be a major part of your budget. Don’t leave this to chance or anyone’s own, subjective view; work with experts who know the cities and areas you’re thinking about, and will help ensure you pay the right amount at the right time to be in the right place.

4. Be Agile

People are strange things! What you think will happen in your pop up almost certainly wont! Be ready to flex, adapt, improve and change the consumer experience from day 1. Don't hesitate to keep tweaking and updating based on what consumers tell you, and its worth planning some ‘friends and family’ time ahead of your launch to get some real, honest feedback!

5. Obsess Over People

Your pop up is a living, breathing brand advert – and you need awesome people working there who are enthused by your brand, and who talk about it exactly as you would. Make sure your pop up has recruited, trained, incentivised and motivated the best set of ambassadors possible – they really do make the difference.

6. Understand the Operation

Pop ups are operationally complex, and attention to detail is truly what makes the difference. From stock and logistics management, to the subtleties of the wording you use on any signs in-store, a great experience is denoted by being the complete immersive package. Make sure you work with partners who understand the vast array of operational challenges that come with physical experiences; and importantly can sort them out with ease and pace, leaving you to focus on delighting your visitors.



Thinking of creating your own pop up experience? Or maybe you already have but would like to know how you could improve it next time?

We’d love to talk to you

At iD, we’re committed to delivering large scale, repeatable, commercially-focused brand experiences. If you’d like to hear more about us, we’d be happy to set up some time for us to take you through our work for the likes of Nespresso, Britvic, Charlotte Tilbury and Cornetto, and share some of our key tips and considerations for creating the best branded pop up experiences. 

Get in Touch!

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We’re an independent marketing agency that’s been trailblazing the brand activation and retail sector since 1993.
We’re home to Agile Retail – the future of retail stores.

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