Pop-up Retail: 5 Best Formats to Create Buzz, Sales and New Customers!

This is a post by Michael Decker

So you want to create a pop-up. You want to create buzz around your brand and find a new, innovative way to give consumers an In-store Shopper Moment®. The first step? Determine which pop-up format works best for your brand.

In our Pop-Up or Perish webinar our expert team at MR Pop-Up highlighted the five types of pop-up: mobile, four-wall, site-specific, event based and specialty build. Each has its own unique benefits and appeal. There’s no one that reigns supreme – because it’s all about meeting your goals with clear objectives.

Goals can fall into any one of six areas. And frequently, you can have multiple, overlapping goals. Generally, pop-ups are used to:

  • Create buzz
  • Generate sales
  • Build a brand
  • Introduce a product
  • Test a concept, product or service
  • Cement relationships

Once you determine your priority, you are on your way to creating a pop-up that dazzles.

Create buzz with a mobile pop-up

In planning a pop-up, you want to get the most bang for your buck. You want to reach the greatest number of people and harness the most influence. Logistically, one of the simplest ways to speak to the masses is to go mobile.

Brand leaders such as Ferrari and Puma have teamed up to dress up lowly shipping containers to serve up a first-class staging area for decidedly upscale branding efforts in key markets via a mobile roadshow.

Mobile pop-ups are nimble. They offer the flexibility to go location to location, meaning your installation will be spotted in more places, and garner more attention, more shoppers, more social followings and more mentions.

Sell products with a four-wall pop-up

In many ways, the opposite of a mobile pop-up is a stationary one. But these four-wall pop-ups come with great value. Finding an existing space is often very cost-efficient: the storefront will already have a shop-like set up. More and more, commercial retail developers and malls are open to signing short-term leases – instead of an empty storefront, they’d rather have a vibrant tenant. Plus, from a shopper’s perspective, the space is already within the pathways of their regular foot traffic.

We like the real estate placement that UGG Australia and Bauble Bar have managed year in and year out in selling their wares during the key Holiday season out of temporary pop-up spaces in strategically selected malls across the country. It’s cost effective and barely perceptible as temporary space.

The four-wall pop-up is ideal for a company whose goal is to foster relationships with the community, as well as to provide a unique cost-effective sales venue. It’s less about over-the-top, investment-heavy creativity, and more about setting up shop relatively quickly and interacting with consumers in a new location.

Build a brand and cement relationships with a site-specific pop-up

When it’s time to explore a new shop, it’s time to get site specific. In other words, get local.

The format of the space itself doesn’t matter – it could be mobile, it could be four-wall. What’s more important is the theme and how it ties in to the site and local community. A site-specific installation considers the essence of the location, using local products, structures and resources to speak to the community and demonstrate your brand’s interest in the area and your neighborly tendencies. Take advantage of the uniqueness of the region and incorporate it into the fabric of the pop-up.

Adidas and Macy’s have created “just for you” pop-up experiences in LA and Manhattan respectively that personalize their connection to these communities with dedicated product that celebrates the essence of each great city.

Site-specific pop-ups are a great way to introduce your company and grow your brand in a market. You’re establishing respect for and understanding of the local identity and creating new relationships for a potential long-term commitment.

Introduce or test a product with an event-based pop-up

SXSW, Coachella, New York Fashion Week, Aspen Ideas Festival. These fun annual events are exceptionally popular in the pop-up sphere. The event attendees are ready and willing for the experience of a lifetime, and are all sharing their festival trips on social media.

Perennial music and arts sponsors like Sprite, Tito’s Vodka and Oreo are three excellent brand examples that spare no effort in creating natural trial opportunities and tests for their new flavors and new products.

It’s here that influencer consumers come to do something new and interesting. They want a unique experience. These pop-ups are the perfect venue for testing and introducing products. With a huge sampling of ready consumers, a strategically placed, event based pop-up can reach thousands of influencers faster and more effectively than any other pop-up format.

Wow consumers with a specialty-build pop-up

This last format – the specialty-build pop-up – is the “ultra” in customization. Though it usually requires the biggest budget, it also garners the most attention. Specialty-build pop-ups can be tailored to reach any branding objective. And because they are built to spec, they are the most flexible and open to the greatest degree of creative license.

Specialty build experts like McDonald’s (walk in lunch pale), Tiffany’s (walk in blue box) and Diesel (walk in transistor radio) have truly wowed their current and prospective customers with over-the-top execution.

These pop-ups go above and beyond to generate the biggest splash. They foster experiences consumers have never felt before: they’re innovative, exciting, and their potential is unlimited.

When you think about popping up, begin with goals and strategy, and then let the creative juices flow. At MR Pop-Up, we’ve helped brands pop-up everywhere from local communities to high-visibility venues. We can guide you on the best pop-up format to achieve your objectives, and develop the ideation and execution to excite your audience. Start exploring options today by reaching out to engage@meetmrpopup.com or watch our webinar for more depth on the art and business of modern pop-up retail.

Michael Decker is Vice President, Marketing Strategy at Medallion Retail and its subsidiary MR Pop-up with more than 20 years of experience in retail marketing management. Medallion Retail is a recognized leader in retailer and retail brand strategy providing end-to-end solutions for custom selling environments that will engage your customers with “In-Store Shopper Moments®”

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.