9 Questions to Help Figure out Your Retail Pop Up Store Strategy


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Part of the beauty of a pop-up shop is that it exists in an isolated timeframe where you have a limited downside. The pop-up shop allows you to achieve multiple goals in a temporary setting, using a relatively low-cost alternative to investing large sums of capital in order to sign multi-year leases and make other long-term commitments.

The first thing to remember is that not all pop-up events are intended to sell merchandise. Likewise, not all pop-up events are intended to launch a brand. Pop-up activations are ultimately about customer engagement. They are an opportunity to physically interact with customers, surround them with your message and gather feedback about your customer at the same time.

What makes pop-up events special is that they are unique to your brand and goals, so there is no one formula that will work for everyone. However, some questions to ask when identifying the goals of your pop-up should include:

  • Are you launching a new brand or category within an existing brand?
  • Are you growing brand awareness for a specific product line?
  • Are you testing a new market?
  • Are you experimenting with what works and what doesn’t?
  • Are you educating customers?
  • How will you immerse them in the lifestyle experience of your brand?
  • Are you testing the launch of a new partnership or collaboration?
  • Are you pushing out inventory with a sample sale?
  • Are you leveraging a highly seasonal business?

The answers to these questions will inform you as to what your plans and strategy should be for your pop-up shop. They’ll allow you to hone in on what your purpose is and what your customers’ expectations might be. By having clearly defined goals and expectations, you’ll be able to focus on building out a true experience for your customers.

Pop-up activations are ultimately about customer engagement.

In a way, a pop-up is an amplification of a focus group. It allows you to collect a substantial amount of information on customer reactions to a product and it creates an environment in which people are giving you feedback. However, they are also speaking publicly about it, and even sharing it on their social channels. They’re not sitting in a small group where they feel con ned to give you structured answers. They’re coming to discover a new experience and talk about how it makes them feel.

Step one when planning your brand’s pop-up shop is to step back and think about your key goals. There’s lots of possible benefits, but what’s the one goal that this pop-up needs to achieve to be a success?

If you are launching a new brand, it’s a great way to learn what resonates with your projected target market. If your brand already has a presence in one city but you want to explore another, it’s a test to be sure you open in the right neighborhood and an opportunity to learn how merchandising and pricing may be impacted from city to city.

Brands can explore completely different audiences with pop-ups, too. For example, just because you might be a great men’s retailer doesn’t mean that you can’t sell equally well to women. You can potentially use the pop-up as a cross-marketing opportunity, combining with existing interest groups of women who are shopping for your target male demographic. In a pop-up, a brand has a safe place to test new markets, customers, and beyond.

Excerpted from The Pop-Up Paradigm: How Brands Can Build Human Connections in a Digital Age written by Melissa Gonzalez, the founder of the Lionequese Group in New York City. She can be reached at mg@lionesquegroup.com.  The Pop Up Paradigm is available online.