Pop Up Evolution - throughout the years

Pop Up Retail has been around for many years, but it is not until the early 2000’s that it has gained popularity.

Pop Up Retail has been around for many years, but it is not until the early 2000’s that it has gained popularity.

The reasons for this are the many benefits temporary stores bring to the table, not only to bring awareness, but also to launch new products and increase sales. While in the early 2000’s Pop ups were only used by brands from time to time, they have since become an integral part of every successful omni-channel strategy. In this article we will go over this evolution.

The traditional uses for pop ups have been used since the start of commerce, starting with local markets, where travel merchants sold their products and customers would go not only to buy but to explore. Marketplaces were also meeting places, and, consequently still today, as shopping is an activity. They were often located in city or town centers but also in rural areas.

Pop-up shops as strategic branding, marketing and distribution tool

This has evolved, and nowadays Pop ups are no longer used for these purposes. Pop up retail now has many benefits, as they are an inexpensive way to:

  1. Engage with the consumers offline / create direct connections. Especially for an online brand, temporary stores are a great way to get to know your customers and your demographics, as well as getting feedback from said customers.

  2. Create a sense of exclusivity, a desire to have/need the product. For example, for temporary collections/limited stock, pop ups are the perfect opportunity. As well for new launches and collections, it is an optimal tool to present your products or services. A great example of this is Louis Vuitton collaboration with Supreme, a great strategy to rejuvenate the brand and reach a younger audience.

  3. Generate hype/brand awareness. Pop ups are perfect for introducing the brand in cities or countries where your brand may not be present.

  4. Experiment with a physical location. Coming back to point 4, they are also the perfect opportunity for an online brand to probe if establishing a physical store would be good for your brand.

  5. Community Building. A temporary store can also be a way of community building, with activities where customers can participate and feel part of the brand.

Now, venue possibilities are infinite. Brands can play with the element of surprise with a pop up on wheels, where they can reach many locations, or play with their creativity and engage with customers through fun.

The importance of physical touchpoints in an increasingly digital world.

Pop Ups serve as a brand activation tool to reach the brand’s target audiences. For a few years now, we can also see Malls dedicated to the pop-up world. This means everything in the mall are pop up stores. From retail to food experiences. In the end, every industry can be adapted to pop ups. Entertainment (circus, cinemas), Fashion, Food, Tourism, Technology…

Pop-ups are very popular in cultural events, such as fashion weeks, music festivals, food festivals, clubs etc. This is a great way for the brand to associate themselves to, depending on the venue, its culture. A good example of this would be Kanye West with the St. Pablo world tour, where he opened 21 pop-ups in international cities, for not only the attendees of the concerts, but also those who couldn’t get their hands on a ticket. In Fashion weeks for example, it is a chance for their brands to showcase their products and their ready to wear to a truly fashion oriented audience. We also have the example of Supperclub Amsterdam, where art meets gastronomy. A hybrid concept, it is home to a gallery, club, restaurant and bar.

Offline is the new Online

To finish, pop ups are nowadays necessities for brands, both emerging brands and established brands. For the young ones, it is a chance to stand out with low costs and low risks, and increase awareness by having contact with consumers. For established brands, it is a chance to mix things up, to stay flexible, to target a different audience, to launch a new product. While 10 years ago young brands would start out online, nowadays, online marketing and acquisition costs are going higher and higher, which makes these young brands want to go into physical space to get first-hand customer feedback and sales. With providers like Shopify making it super-easy to create an online shop, launching is not the main challenge anymore. Driving traffic to that online shop is. Opening pop-ups in addition to an online shop allows brands a more affordable way of reaching potential customers building their community

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