Here are a few reasons why creating pop-ups for your brand – or making your space available for pop-ups – are a necessity if you are looking to grow or scale your business.
Brands: Be open when YOU want to
Walk around a mall during weekdays in the middle of the morning or afternoon — before the lunch crowd arrives and before the evening shoppers make their appearance. For those of us who don’t like crowds, this is the time to shop.
We might be happy about it, but shopkeepers sure aren’t.
Similarly, talk to mall merchants in January and February, and the word you’ll hear most often is…”dead.” Not only are shoppers Missing-in-Action, but many part-time workers are told their services won’t be needed during that time period.
This is one of the main benefits that pop-ups have to offer, and is a reason why the pop-up trend is becoming so big (or as “The Donald” might say it, is growing so bigly). Pop-ups enable the vendor to open during high-season only, rather than having to be open 12 months out of the year. They allow the chef to host a pop-up restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights and not have to be open on nights that are typically slow nights for eating out. You can pick your spots, pick your days, even pick your hours in many cases.
Shopping Mall Operators: Avoid Misperceptions
We all know the economy has picked up and that many malls, especially Class-A upscale malls, are doing quite well. Still, there are forces that create vacancies even in the liveliest of malls. Leases expire, long-time tenants move out, and there is a period of time when the store remains empty. In a few cases, some of the big box stores — e.g., Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Staples, etc. — that have been anchor stores for decades are closing the locations within their portfolio that are underperforming. And with demographics and trends changing at the drop of a hat, once popular chains suddenly go out of style and out of business.
Whatever the reason, even when it is nothing more than a changing of the guard between leases, a dark window just doesn’t feel right to passersby. All the more so when there is a “Great Retail Opportunity” sign in the window – there is a sense that the mall is no longer a strong and popular place for retailers, which translates into “maybe I shouldn’t be shopping here” for shoppers.
Pop-ups can help counter such misperceptions. Besides adding incremental income, and providing prospective tenants that might convert from temporary to permanent when they see their ventures working out, pop-ups also serve to “stage” an otherwise dark and forbidding retail space. Pop-ups often generate excitement and crowds and freshness, which in turn portrays a vacant space as being vital and attractive. And that will have the effect of having a great retail prospect choose your space over the many other options that are out there.
Vendors: Truly Understand Your Objective
Vendors’ objectives vary greatly. Some want to test out new markets. Some want to generate more brand awareness. Some, especially online brands, feel that pop-ups can create better engagement with their customers. And others are looking to monetize their pop-up as much as possible.
While it is possible to have more than one of the above objectives, that is something that is hard to pull off and is often self-defeating and leads to false conclusions. For example, let’s say you want to get a direct, monetized return on your pop-up investment. If so, some of the qualities you would be looking for in a venue would be location, demographics and existing foot traffic. Find a great spot in a great mall with the right shoppers, and your pop-up is bound to succeed. But your success won’t necessarily be measured in terms of brand awareness or testing out a new market.
Conversely, if you are looking to make a big splash and gain greater exposure, it is the “experience” and “novelty” that counts, not the commercial factor. Samsung has a great installation in mid-Manhattan which is generating great PR and public interest, but it doesn’t sell a thing. And that’s fine, because that’s the point.
As a rule of thumb, don’t mix and match. If you want to know if your product is commercially viable, plant it where the shoppers are and put up an “open for business” shingle. If you want to create “buzz,” concentrate on design or something out of the box. But don’t try to be everything at once. It might work, but not as well, and might not prove what you are setting out to prove.
Pop-ups allow so many people to do so many cool, innovative things. They also provide a solution to brands looking to attract new customers; malls and properties looking to fill vacancies; and vendors looking to test a physical, retail presence.
Our message to those thinking about creating a pop-up of their own: take the plunge and Make Retail Great Again!