Think “Experiential” Pop Ups

Pop-ups date back, at the very least, to the Vienna December Market of 1298 and the European Christmas markets that followed and still exist today. Modern pop up retail stores are viewed by many to date back to the Ritual Market (great name…no?), a one-day “hipster mall” held in Los Angeles in 1997. That event led numerous brands to embrace pop-up stores to sell their products, including AT&T, Levi-Strauss, Target, and, of course as you know, numerous designer fashion brands. Keep in mind that these were all pop-up retail stores, dedicated to the sale of products.

While retail pop-ups continue to thrive, the format has evolved to embrace experiential marketing where pop-ups have been used to accomplish a broader range of marketing objectives, from product education to the engagement of influencers––and much more. As the format has been set free from a strict focus on selling, the product or service can be defined on a bigger, broader scale. The focus shifts to employing the pop-up to define––or redefine––the brand experience. A range of sophisticated marketing tools are now employed…from artificial intelligence to virtual reality, to sophisticated social integration.

What can be accomplished with “experiential” pop-ups? A wide variety of things. Here are a few examples of objectives achieved by several brands we have worked with

The Google Play to Pay Laundromat

Few locations epitomize monotony to the extent that laundromats do. You’re there to wait, and to transfer wet clothing, to fold, and to wait some more. So, what better place to subvert expectations by transforming a place of boredom into one of excitement and play.

We created the Google Pay to Play Laundromat overnight. A haven for gamers and laundry-doers alike to take a load off (no pun intended), visitors were able to enjoy the casual gaming experience that Google Play does so well. There were, of course, prizes as well, including a coveted home delivery laundry load.

What was the Google “experiential” pop-up used to accomplish?

  1. Surprise customers by transforming a space. Reach a new audience.
  1. Gain entry into new markets.
  1. Get some market research.
  1. Test a new concept using a pop-up in one location.
  1. Increase the Google innovation factor, due to the takeover.

We’re proud to say that the guests (and the client), weren’t the only ones to get excited about the laundromat. The pop-up has been honored at the 2018 Ex and Pro awards.

The Lancôme Pop-Up

Tasked with capturing the imagination of the famously tough to market-to millennial generation, we designed our traveling pop-up for Lancôme to grab attention and refuse to give it up. Packed to the gills with interactive elements including a smart mirror that incorporated facial recognition technology with a personalized shopping experience, games and prizes, and of course, hands on access to the new Lancôme Monsieur Big products.

What was this Lancôme “experiential” pop-up used to accomplish?    

  1. Successfully introduce a new product line.
  1. Sample products.
  1. Increase appeal to the millennial audience.
  1. Modernize the Lancôme image.
  1. Remove subjectivity from beauty recommendations.
  1. Create relevant shareable social content.   

The result was over 5,000 products distributed, over 10 million social impressions thanks to our delighted guests, and over 1,600 visitors.

Take another look at the wide range of objectives that experiential pop-ups have accomplished. It’s likely that your brand might benefit from a program like one of these. There are endless combinations that you can consider beyond dedicated retail pop-up shops. Or…you might want to combine retail and experiential elements within a single branded program––which has worked like gangbusters for several of our clients.