4 Reasons Why Your Retail Brand Needs a Pop-Up Shop

By: Kristen Alberti

Whether they sell makeup, clothes, specialty food items or furniture, cool brands are thriving through pop-up shops. From the likes of Kylie Jenner and Kanye West, to start-up consumer brands like Rhone Apparel and Casper, pop-up shops are the best way to reach a younger market and stand out among competitors.

While the topic of experiential marketing is nothing new for retail brands, the best practices continue to evolve. Today, pop-up shops are viewed by many as one of the hottest experiential marketing opportunities. In fact, retail marketing database PopUp Republic reported that the pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2016.

To better understand the growing success of pop-up shops, it’s helpful to understand the definition of experiential marketing. Wikipedia defines it as “a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience.”

This probably made you think of one thing — millennials. This experience-loving generation is the perfect market for testing out these event-based marketing strategies. But let’s say you’re not Kylie or Kanye. How can pop-up shops benefit you as a regular retail brand or start-up B2C business when fans aren’t lined up outside your shop three weeks before it opens?

Pop-up shops provide a shareable experience

Believe it or not, millennials actually like brick-and-mortar stores. Shocking, right?

But the store alone can only fulfill their needs so much. To really speak to a younger market, you need an engaging story to go along with your brand and mission statement. Even if millennials aren’t willing to drop lots of cash on your products, they will pay for a great experience. If you wow them enough, they will definitely make a purchase. That purchase creates an opportunity to gain a loyal customer.

Pop-ups are also super shareable. Because nearly everyone is giving real-time updates about their lives via social media, your experiential marketing creation will help generate an elevated level of brand awareness as soon as a few customers go live on Instagram or Facebook.

Executing a pop-up can make your company unique

The fun thing about pop-up shops is that you can make them whatever you want, and you can truly execute your brand strategy through them. If you want your company to have a rustic vibe, create a full-blown rustic pop-up shop and see where it takes you. Sell your brand to your audience and see how they like it. Getting real-time feedback can help you grow as an engaging retail company and will allow you to connect with your customers on a more personalized level, which is what attracted them to your experiential strategy in the first place.

For example, you wouldn’t want to buy a mattress before you tested it out, would you? Mattress startup brand Casper knew you’d want to test out their online-only products, so they launched 15 pop-up shops across the U.S. to give you the chance to do just that. Casper listened to their audience and knew that the demand to experience their mattresses in-person was increasing rapidly. Given their product line and the need to increase in-person customer experiences and satisfaction, a pop-up shop was a no-brainer for them.

Likewise, Rhone Apparel made their pop-up shop debut just before the holidays in 2015. As a premier men’s activewear and lifestyle brand, they wanted to physically interact with their market to figure out how to provide them with the best products and services possible. PR Newswire noted that Rhone teamed up with interior design and architecture firm Reform Creative to create an environment full of city-inspired “custom blackened steel and diamond pattern metal mesh fixtures that emulate the Rhone brand ethos of form and function.” Bringing the brand to life while also connecting with consumers? Seriously, what a concept.

One big thing to remember about pop-up shops is that they should be unique. Tailor the experience, the products and the services you’re providing to your customers. Casper and Rhone listened to their audiences and gave them exactly what they wanted. Some brands will need to offer more products and less experience, while other brands will need to create an incredible experience to sell certain products. Look at your business, and do what will make your brand that much bigger and better.

It’s a more cost-effective way to connect with customers

Pop-up shops are like the drive-before-you-buy strategy of the marketing world. They allow you to test new demographic markets and geographic locations before investing a large amount of time, money and resources into them. It’s the hassle-free way to create a brick-and-mortar presence without actually doing so.

Whether you’re popping up for a day, a week or a month, the rent for your pop-up location will most likely be less costly than the lease you would have to sign for a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Black Enterprise reported that “the build-out cost for a temporary pop-up shop is $1,500 – $10,000 and for a kiosk it’s $10,000 – $30,000…while a traditional brick-and-mortar store starts at $25,000.”

Still don’t believe me? Total retail reports that “retail rents continue to rise, with an increase of nearly 25 percent compared to last year’s prices for office space, making it much more difficult for new brands to afford storefront property.” Renting a smaller, temporary space is the best way to create an effective brand experience, save money on a lease and generate more revenue than what you made from online sales alone.

But, how can pop-up shops be so successful in this economy? Big-name retail brands continue to file for bankruptcy and close their doors. In fact, The Limited, Toys R Us and RadioShack are just a few examples in 2017. Well, with the failure of these brick-and-mortar stores, commercial retail space owners need to fill their vacant storefronts before they start to lose money. This is where your pop-up shop comes in! Even if just for a few weeks, you can take full advantage of an opportunity to interact with customers and generate brand awareness in these empty spaces for the right price.

You can pick the perfect location for your target market

You can create a pop-up shop just about anywhere, as long as you have the necessary finances and permission to use the space you desire. Where is the majority of your market located? If you’re a strictly online or e-commerce company like Rhone Apparel and notice your consumers in New York are itching for more of your products, it makes perfect sense to set up a pop-up shop in NYC and figure out your next steps from there.

If you’re already thriving in your target market, pop-up shops can be used as an efficient way to test new markets. Whether you’re looking to target a different age, a different gender or new consumers in a different location, a pop-up shop can help you engage with a prospective audience and then decide whether or not it’s the right move for you before it’s too late.