The Rise of Pop-Up Stores

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In today’s era of retail disruption, pop-up stores definitely sit somewhere on top amongst the most-popular global sales and marketing trends. The widely popular term ‘pop-up store’ requires no introductions but we do have a fun fact to share about it – it first made an appearance sometime in the early 2000s. It is also associated with the term ‘flash retail’and ‘nomadic retail’ implying its adoption by retail brands not looking to invest in a long-term physical presence. It’s important to note that pop-up stores initially started off in retail but are a pan-industry phenomenon today, contributing to a revenue of close to $10 billion globally. 

Millennials have played a significant part in the rapid rise of this billion dollar trend. How exactly? This generation that accounts for a whopping $1.4 trillion of total retail sales, is found to gravitate towards experiences more than anything, subsequently transforming the shopping behaviours of their previous generations as well as bringing about a shift in how brands are choosing to market & sell their products. The long and short of it – pop-up stores make for good experiential shopping for new-age customers, thus enabling an increase in sales

Brands have a number of other compelling reasons to adopt this trend, one of the most relevant ones being the cost-effectiveness of the format. Pop-up stores are 80% cheaper than physical retail stores. Besides, a number of brands capitalize on the new-age consumers’ need for experiences by putting forth their brand story in a unique manner to ensure they garner eyeballs and basically some brand love. Digital brands, a lot of which are start-ups take the pop-up stores route to reach out to their customers in real-life and drive physical traffic, without burning a hole in their small pockets.

Not just start-ups, big brands too are joining the bandwagon – Sports apparel brand, Nike has been popping up in various big cities across the globe, including Paris where they popped-up sometime last year to promote their new range of Nike Air Max. Japanese brand, Muji popped-up at a location in Canada in early 2017 and opened physical stores later after gauging customer response and and getting a better understanding of their choices.

According to a report by strategic intelligence company, CB Insights, “Traditionally, the pop-up store phenomenon has been the domain of digitally native brands looking to experiment in physical retail.” However, that’s all changing now with pop-ups being seen as a popular format by brands from varied industries.

November last year, camera equipment brand, Canon opened their pop-up, “Canon Portals”in New York City with the idea of allowing visitors to learn taking better pictures with their automatic cameras. The pop-ups featured six portals each focussing on a specific photo-making technique. The visitors could even print the photos clicked by them as a souvenir. 

Home-goods e-retailer, Wayfair opened their first-ever pop-up during last year’s holiday season. The pop-ups did not carry actual inventory; instead they allowed customers to view the company’s limited-edition products and place orders for home delivery. More than sales, the objective here was to drive customer engagement. In the words of Wayfair’s VP of Marketing, “Similar to any marketing channel, this is just an attempt to make our great experience come to life in a physical format.”

Far from a flash-in-the-pan, today pop-up stores have become more of a necessity for brands to fully experiment in physical space and to garner maximum brand PR from offline sources. The future might even see this trend shaping and influencing the way commercial real estate is leased out altogether. Guess we’ll just have to wait and watch.


CATEGORIES: Branding · Market
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