Pop-Up Stores Flourishing as New Trend in Consumer Marketing

Uniqlo's (shipping container) pop-up store in NYC.

Come and get it…but hurry.  You’ve only got 96 hours before this limited edition retail experience moves out of town.  Hurry up!  You don’t want to miss out.

Pop-up stores—retail outlets that open temporarily and then move on—are sprouting up around the US (and abroad) as a new way to engage customers and market products.  From online retailers (like eBay and piperlime.com) to car manufacturers to tourism bureaus, pop-up stores allow companies to generate buzz and create a custom consumer experience.

1. One-to-One Marketing

Pop-up stores create a one-to-one marketing experience by allowing consumers to engage with (see, touch, smell) products and speak directly to retailers.  For example, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau opened a pop-up location in New York in January.  They created the entire sensory experience for shoppers—a beach (complete with sand), a putting green and lifeguards.  Consumers stepped out of the snow and into paradise.

2. Testing Grounds

Pop-up stores are an excellent opportunity for various types of retailers to introduce their products to the public.  Online retailers can give customers the opportunity to engage with their products for the first time.  Additionally, pop-up stores allow companies to test new products or market areas with no long-term commitment.  Finally, many companies use pop-up stores to launch new products—giving dedicated customers the “first look.”

3. Media Attention

The sense of urgency that surrounds pop-up stores helps them generate a huge amount of buzz.  For example, the U.S. Potato Board opened a pop-up store in New York to promote potatoes as a good source of potassium and vitamin C.  The store got them featured in the New York Times and a number of network morning shows—which would have been impossible using traditional marketing tactics within the same budget.

4. Cost

Pop-up stores are efficient for retailers and landlords.  The cost of opening a pop-up store is far less than the cost of producing television ads and buying television time.  Additionally, since the investment in relatively low, marketers can be more progressive and think “outside the box.”  Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, promoted their launch in New York by opening a pop-up store in a shipping container.  The idea—that the products were literally coming to New York from Tokyo—sent a clear message at a relatively low cost.  For landlords, pop-up stores are a way to generate income in otherwise unoccupied properties and keep activity in the neighborhood alive.

The VitaminWater10 pop-up store gave consumers the opportunity to taste the new product.

Pop-up stores are not limited to one type of retailer.  Companies like Nike, Gap, JVC, Wal-Mart, eBay, VitaminWater, Lexus and Ford have already entered the pop-up space.  In time, we can expect to see pop-ups going places other than New York and Los Angeles, which have emerged as far and away the most popular locations.  Big cities are attractive for a variety of reasons (number of inhabitants and major media outlets top the list), but pop-up stores will also emerge in more rural areas, giving those shoppers the opportunity to purchase products not usually available to them.


Advertising Age: http://adage.com/article?article_id=138704

Businessweek: http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2007/db20070206_949107.htm

New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/09/first_look_inside_the_piperlim.html

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5 Responses to Pop-Up Stores Flourishing as New Trend in Consumer Marketing

  1. Sisi says:

    Pop-up stores’ success is also because of its limited time offer. From Psychological perspective, fear is a common emotion most people have. Researchers show that “limited time” offer can promote the sale or awareness because customers fear of losing the opportunity to get the deal or try new products. So, who will say no to temporary featured stores?

    • Cece Sun says:

      True. That’s why the limited editions of some famous brands usually result in the excessive demand situation even though they enjoy unreasonable high price compared with regular editions. Good example of the utilization of consumer psychological feature. : )

  2. Cece Sun says:

    I think there are various kinds of pop-up stores. Once I saw the road show of M.A.C. cosmetic at the Grove. They set up a stage and played modern melodrama with actors and actresses wearing the latest style of makeup. What’s the difference is that there is a brick-and-stone M.A.C store just next to the road show spot. Since the melodrama only played for several days, the combination shares the advantages of the newly emerging pop-up stores. First,individual face-to-face consulting opportunity: if you are interested in the newly launch makeup products after watching the melodrama, you can directly go into the store to try the products. Second, good chance to test potential consumers’ response: they could observe the reactions of customers toward this new cosmetic line and how much traffic can it drive to the store. Third, attract media’s attention: since they played kinda of art performance in a point of interest, more public media would pay attention to it than to those who only focus on product promotion itself. Last but not the least, the cost is much lower than to producing TV ads or holding a new product release meeting.
    Moreover, pop-up stores and other variations also create a special space to promote company culture and style by any artistic forms with less limitations. It is more practical to renew or strengthen company style by pop-up stores than constantly changing the appearances of brick-and stone stores.

  3. Shelley says:

    I think this new trend is very attractive and useful. Also it cost not so much. In addition, people feel not very familiar with that so they are more like to learn more. So when it stands on the street, it will attract more people to stop to notice it. The companies which mentioned in the article are Nike, Gap, Wal-Mart, and so on; they are all the popular brand for the consumers, and they are not luxury products. So people may think the store is interesting and the product is not very expensive, they maybe more likely to buy it in the limited time.

  4. menewell says:

    This is an idea that will stick. It increases exposure for the companies, it plays off of the psychological tendencies of consumers, it allows them to go into markets and locations where they haven’t typically been and at the end of the day if one location is not successful they aren’t stuck with a long-term lease on a typical brick and mortar retail store, and as such can easily cut ties and move to another location.
    My only question or concern here is for companies that don’t have an established presence or name in the marketplace. If they utilize this Pop-Up method will consumers be as likely to buy from them? Will they trust the return policy and quality of this new product from xyz company that they have never heard of before?