Friday, October 25, 2013

Tis the Season for Pop-Up Shops: Blink and They're Gone

Pop-up shops exist to build brands and awareness for only a short time--blink, and they're gone.

Sometimes the goal is to test a new brand or product, or to reach a new market. And sometimes the goal is to encourage the usually dreaded showrooming, meaning customers will look in person but then buy online. With a pop-up, the company wants people to browse the website long after the shop has moved on.

Major downtowns, especially those with retail vacancies, are increasingly benefiting from the pop-up trend. On any given day, New York City may be host to some 200 pop-ups in high-traffic or high-fashion districts (or even in the subway). But pop-ups are popping up in suburbia as well, frequently in vacant mall spaces.

Here are a few trends in pop-ups this fall:
  • Musical groups are using pop-ups to promote new releases. Pearl Jam opened one inside a skate-board retailer and closed it after 24 hours--just enough time to get the buzz going as hundreds of fans lined up to buy the new music (the band wasn't even there).
  • InStyle Essentials has a cause-related connection (see photo), with a mobile pop-up in Boston donating one shirt to Dress for Success for every shirt purchased. It's in a busy location and getting a bit of publicity, too.
  • Ten Thousand Villages, the Fair Trade merchant, tried for years to open a holiday season pop-up around Greenville, N.C. This year it happened, building both awareness and sales in the all-important year-end gift-buying period.
  • In Oxfordshire, two online-only businesses have eight-week leases to show their products for the holiday season, hoping to build website business and of course sell some products in person. If all goes well, one or both may open a retail location in 2014.
  • Dockers is reinventing itself for a younger target market, with an introductory pop-up in New York City and a cross-country mobile pop-up tour.

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