5 Reasons Pop-Ups May Have Real Staying Power
The retail industry is in a profound shift, and for most retailers, it’s adapt or die.
Among the survival imperatives: responding intelligently to heightened consumer demand for creative, memorable shopping experiences. These are what reinforce the value of physical retail to shoppers and, consequently, remind brands exactly how valuable their brick-and-mortar spaces are. (Lest we forget, 90 percent of retail dollars are still spent in stores.) One easy way to do that is through pop-ups.
Here’s why pop-up shops, which at a surface level seem merely fun and ephemeral, may actually have concrete impact — and real staying power — for brands.
1. Consumers Find Pop-Ups Appealing
We surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers in the first quarter of 2018, and a significant segment of them were intrigued by the notion of pop-ups. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more respondents gravitated toward modern, digital shopping channels, the more interested they were in pop-ups. Fifty percent of monthly subscription box devotees said they would be open to checking out a pop-up. Almost 40 percent of weekly online shoppers felt the same way. Even 29 percent of those who were more old school (e.g., shopping in physical stores every week) copped to curiosity about pop-ups. For brands, this data provides clear support for that old saying: give the people what they want.
2. They Also See Them as Wallet-Friendly
Thirty percent of our survey respondents cited competitive pricing as the No. 1 reason they might visit a pop-up, with convenience and location coming in at a close second for 28 percent of respondents. Let’s think about that: nearly a third of shoppers view pop-ups as places they can score deals on hard-to-get items from desirable brands. That’s a huge net positive for retailers, which no longer have to expend as much effort — and marketing spend — convincing customers there are deals to be had. Instead, they can mix in promotions, freebies and other incentives, along with higher-priced inventory that may actually move because consumers are motivated by the knowledge a pop-up is just that: here today, gone tomorrow.
3. Pop-Ups Facilitate New Connections
While I was back in Colorado visiting family, I happened to wander through the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. There were an interesting number of pop-ups that, at first glance, didn’t appear to have much connection with the Red Bull/adrenaline/thrill-seeking crowd. I saw BullFrog Sunscreen, a brand most associate with the water sports of Florida, not the mountains. Pacífico beer had a striking AirStream setup, clearly trying to market itself as a summer beer that can be enjoyed anywhere, beach not required.
This event clearly wasn’t a natural fit for either brand, so why show up at all? In short, the Games served as an easy way to introduce the brand to a new customer demographic without sinking an unreasonable level of cost into the effort. It’s pure expedience —lots of people to connect with in a fairly low-commitment, low-pressure way at an event where they’re having fun and likely more receptive.
4. Pop-Ups Enable Smart Location Assessment
If pop-ups give brands the chance to connect with a new customer segment, they serve equally as means of evaluating a fresh location in a fairly low-risk, inexpensive way. Teams can gauge consumer reaction, assess local competitors, and even tack on visits to potential store sites as part of the pop-up expenditure. Although it’s not the most comprehensive assessment method, the pop-up experience is a good first step, a way to dip a toe into the water and see if it might feel warm enough for further exploration.
5. CPGs Can Seize Their Moment in the Spotlight
CPGs are usually reliant on the pharmacy, grocery and department stores of the world for their sales. Pop-ups give them a chance to break away from these middlemen and build a direct and valuable relationship with customers. How else could a Pacífico beer or BullFrog sunscreen make headway in strengthening brand loyalty? Immersive experiences that create this connection with consumers are a very simple answer to that complicated question. They also provide CPGs with a way to increase their likability and recognition factor, two qualities that help shoppers select their brand from a crowded shelf, over and over and over again.
The temporal nature of pop-ups belies their outsized, positive influence on brands. It’s time for retailers to evaluate pop-ups’ place in an experiential marketing strategy.
Brent Franson is the CEO of Euclid, a data platform for offline attribution and store visit retargeting.
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