Trends & Features

Pop-up retail: 5 tried and tested steps to success

By John Law, activation director at marketing experiential agency Kreate

Pop-up retail has been the go-to marketing strategy over recent years for brands wanting to extend away from traditional retailers or online and capitalise on either specific events or locations, move into spaces that are more relevant or allow a greater degree of brand immersion.

Sporting events are an obvious opportunity for established and challenger brands to build on brand awareness, solidify their position or image and to forge new connections within a specific sport. And with pop-up retail reportedly worth over £2.3 billion in revenue in 2015, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing.

However, as consumer engagement with pop-ups becomes more widespread and regular, potential pop-up ventures must be well thought out and executed in order to stand out from the crowd.

Here’s my top five tips to consider if you’re planning on taking advantage of pop-up retailing in the future:

1. Be authentic
Pop-up retail provides you with the opportunity to create an authentic space and experience that connects with your consumer and harnesses the emotive power they have for your brand, which in turn builds advocacy through engaging on a deeper level with the brand and can provoke action.

Look at brands such as Rapha, which has successfully created spaces that connect with its ‘fans’. In fact, Rapha refer to these pop-ups as Rapha Cycle Clubs and don’t just sell the latest Rapha products, but also limited edition Cycle Club items and provide a café serving the finest coffee and food.

The clubs also screen live racing and host exclusive exhibitions and events. The Rapha Cycle Clubs offer the ultimate Rapha experience all in a bricks and mortar store.

2. Push the boundaries
As pop-ups continue to, well, pop up, it’s important to continually assess how you can push the boundaries to create a memorable experience, either through latest trends or technologies.

Nike’s Force of Nature is such an example. Using Kinect interaction and a treadmill fitted with custom sensors, the installation takes the runner through a journey of visual effects that amplify the feeling of getting into the flow of running. Truly immersive and at the forefront of innovation, the experience is a direct reflection of brand Nike.

3. Understand the customer journey

Of course, the physical pop-up becomes the destination, but with careful planning the journey should begin well before and continue well after to maximise the experience and amplify reach.

The customer journey is nowadays both online and offline, so use an integration of media, including PR and social and digital technologies, to gain exposure, maximise reach and promote sharing.

There’s no doubt a key benefit of pop-up shops is that they help a brand generate buzz. Pop-up retail establishments are often fantastic marketing tools, because they tend to draw attention from crowds.

Consider how you can maximise this buzz through social channels and PR and create a level of ‘need’ among people to drive traffic. Likewise, investigate how you can continue the conversation with customers post event, such as through special offers, tailored content or access to exclusive products and services.

4. The devil’s in the detail
From EPOS systems and stock management to finding on-brand temporary store staff, the success of your pop-up store depends on so many factors of traditional retailing. Often, all these things have to come together in a short period of time, so it’s essential you’re well organised to deliver the best experience possible.

At Kreate, we recently activated a pop-up retail concession at the European Aquatic Championships for Solosport Brands, the UK distributor for Arena swimwear.

We worked closely with Solosport to deliver the pop-up retail concession throughout May 2016, including recruiting, training and managing a team of 12 store staff with relevant retail/sports backgrounds, plus overseeing the whole risk assessment and daily store processes, including procurement and administration of third parties for waste management, overnight security and cash movement.

5. Measure to demonstrate value
Even the biggest brands need to demonstrate a return on investment, so set clear objectives and targets for what success looks like. These can be either quantifiable (such as revenue) or qualitative (such as social content).
While the former is obvious and there will always be business and financial pressures to justify, the latter should not be overlooked, especially if you’re a brand that predominantly operates in the offline world. The opportunity to meet and engage with your customer base face to face is priceless, so capitalise.

Use the opportunity to find out what they think of your new product, packaging, promotional materials or in-store displays. Find out what they’re connecting with and what’s not working, as the better you understand your customer, the better you can connect and create an omnichannel strategy.

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