What comes to mind when you hear the words “pop-up store?” Do you have flashbacks of people selling baseball merchandise outside the stadium this past summer? Or picture a tent at the local fair where someone is selling his homemade jellies and jams? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong, but the way most brands are thinking of pop-up retail today bypasses the traditional retail model to provide unique shopping experiences— powered by the element of surprise.
The basic appeal of pop-up retail: It empowers brands to customize a retail experience within a new, unique space. Itb can be so appealing to both brands and shoppers in that the shops are open for a limited time, offer exclusive products, and provide unique experiences for everyone who visits. With the limited time that pop-up stores are in-market, brands can customize experiences that make a lasting impression.
The one recipe for success that all brands should keep in mind: Create a destination for people that's both unexpected and provides value in fun and creative ways. There are a few ways to achieve this, and some brands have done it surprisingly well…
- Puma solidified their spot in the racing community by showcasing their partnership with Ferrari. Not only were people exposed to the latest in Ferrari-branded Puma gear, but also they were given the chance to sit in limited edition Ferraris that are typically only available to the extremely wealthy. Puma delivered a once-in-a-lifetime experience people would never forget, forever linked back to the brand.
- Adidas created a pop-up store in the shape of a shoebox – but they didn’t stop there. Sneaker enthusiasts love to customize their shoes and want to be the first to own exclusive pairs. So, Adidas offered visitors to this London shop a sneak peak at their new Stan Smith collection, with the capability to put their faces on shoes while they used a 3D station to print custom lace locks. Adidas knew the attraction was about more than just the shop’s outer layer, but about the exclusivity of the experience.
- Bite Beauty took advantage of their customer’s desire to express themselves and create something custom by allowing visitors to their SoHo Lip Lab the opportunity to mix a custom lipstick in under ten minutes. A fun, simple surprise.
These are all cool— but what if brands took it to the next level? What if brands not only created a destination, but also took the gloves off, opened their wallets, ignored the rules, and redefined what pop-up stands for?
Here are some fun possibilities that show the opportunities are huge:
SURPRISE WITH CUSTOMIZATION
With the popularity of design-your-own-shoe capabilities growing (see Nike ID), shoe manufacturers have the opportunity to develop pop-up retail with on-the-spot customizations. No more waiting 4-6 weeks for delivery of a pair of shoes. Not only would this give people a behind-the-scenes look into how your shoes are given their customization but also it would offer real-time satisfaction. Next time you are on the court or field, consider the response a brand would get for offering customized product on the spot. What better way to personalize your game? Customization is an avenue being explored by many brands and categories in pop-ups, but it’s the brands that take it to the next level that are going to create the ultimate surprise.
SURPRISE WITH SIZE
A typical pop-up is thought of as being smaller in scale to that of a regular or flagship store. Although the benefits are obvious (less cost, flexible area, easily transportable, etc.), one way to make a real splash is to think larger. What if a clothing brand was to take over Central Park in New York, or the entire beach on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago? Owning a larger piece of real estate will not only enable you to have a more immersive experience, but would extend your reach to the masses.
SURPRISE WITH VALUE
Sometimes people’s needs for a product and shopping intent strongly correlate to the time and place the product is being used. Imagine a mountain bike parts company with a store at the bottom of a popular trail in Colorado, or a sporting goods company with locations at popular parks in major cities. Connecting to people where and when they use your product is a great way to not only showcase what your brand stands for, but is an alternate, and sometimes better way, to connect with shoppers.
Surprise yourself by examining new angles and possibilities, and in turn, you’ll surprise your consumers. And who doesn’t love a good surprise?
Keith Katona is Momentum's Director of Shopper Marketing, based out of Chicago.