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Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Rob Murphy

With a large number of retail vacancies, storefront owners are eager to fill space even if only for a limited time period. As a result, an increasing number of landlords and property management groups are embracing the pop-up retail trend, where temporary stores appear—and disappear—within a week, a month or season.

In addition to generating revenue for the property owner, the concept offers real benefits to the brand renting the space. Brands are free from long-term commitments, gain exposure in high-visibility locations and, most importantly, generate a lot of attention. Pop-ups offer both loyal and potential consumers a hands-on, uninterrupted experience where they can become fully immersed in the brand and try new products. The strongest, most effective efforts build excitement and curiosity with the local communities and are often backed by a strong brand with an established following.

However, even new brands can benefit, as pop-ups offer an easy way to assess consumer response and interest.

Delivering Brand Impact at Point-of-Sale

As quoted in a recent article in The New York Times, a “pop-up space allows you to have one very consistent, very clear and very distinct message around the brand.” These temporary spaces allow brand owners the opportunity to reach a wide audience in a market for any amount of time. It’s an opportunity to expose a brand, its products and its key messages within a 360-degree landscape.

So, where do you begin? As with any successful marketing program, it all starts and ends in the strategy. Consider the following elements to determine the best approach for your brand:

Timing is Everything
Timing is important, and should be determined based on the goals of your program—such as a product launch or holiday promotion. Take for example, introducing the new fall colors for a product line. July might be an ideal time to set up a temporary store, as people are starting to shop for back-to-school. The customer will be thinking about new looks clothing-wise, so why not engage them in a new makeup line as well?

A Prime Location is Key
Consider where your target audience shops, works and plays when selecting a pop-up location. For example, if your target demographic is female between the ages of 18–24, a college campus or mall are great locations to set up pop-up stores where there are eager shoppers excited to sample products.

Experience by Design
A pop-up environment provides a venue that encourages brand interaction and allows consumers to try new products. The design is essential to attracting and engaging shoppers, specifically, your target audience. The experience begins before the customer even enters the store. All communication tools—be it a direct mailer, a Facebook page or a print invitation—should reflect a consistent brand image.

Whether a stand-alone structure or built within an existing space, a pop-up store design should be customized to give a customer the full brand experience. This includes all customer-facing elements—the exterior, store windows, internal structures, and graphic panels.

Many successful pop-ups include product trials, unique and exclusive offers, free samples and coupons for visitors. This kind of personal experience links the customer to the brand and its benefits—successfully creating brand loyalty in an intimate sales experience.

Choose the Right Partners
Highly specific talents and skill sets are required to design and build market-focused, fully-functioning retail spaces within a limited time. To meet such demands, look to partners with a solid reputation and expertise. Engaging in a collaborative approach early on allows for the best possible outcome and a holistic approach to creating a brand experience.

Measuring Success
While one of the main goals of any pop-up is to build buzz around a brand, demonstrating a solid return on investment is essential. From foot traffic to media coverage, there are several metrics that can be used to calculate the ROI. For instance, as a temporary retail space, you can easily look to sales. Or, couponing is another great way to measure the program’s success. People who enjoy engaging in your products at a pop-up store will use their coupons to purchase your products and develop a loyalty to the brand.

A Profitable Solution to Spreading a Brand Message

As the name suggests, pop-up retail programs are designed to be temporary—now you see it, now you don’t—and can appear in unexpected venues. Whether it’s in a vacant space in a mall or an outside area of a college or university, such programs provide greater flexibility in reaching target audiences.

In addition, a pop-up store can be employed to support almost any marketing initiative or campaign. Whether the goal is to promote one product or several product lines, a beauty brand owner can create a branded experience to fit into any space that can easily and quickly be updated throughout the campaign to ensure continued brand loyalty and awareness.

Pop-up retail is an economical solution to engage target customers and building brand loyalty in targeted markets. The rise in pop-up retail has provided an option to stimulate sales while livening up malls and shopping districts in the midst of a weak economy and the proliferation of empty storefront space.

Rob Murphy is the chief marketing officer of MC², leveraging 20 years of experience in experiential marketing, exhibit design, video production and multimedia content. The company is a nationally recognized leader in the exhibit and event marketing industry, specializing in design, production and management of integrated marketing programs—including events, exhibits, permanent and road show environments and executive briefing centers.;

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