The “Growing Up” of Pop-Up Retail

The high street continues to change, though our purse strings remain tight, and, although pop-up retail is not a new concept, it seems to be evolving to inject excitement and interest back to the high street, and even to our side streets!

The smarter pop-up shops harness the power of social media, encouraging shoppers to tweet, share, or download in order to receive products or extras, which brings the experience to life.

A couple of recent examples from the UK that we think are worth a mention exploit niche opportunities that widen brand appeal. They have moved beyond experiential activation and are commercial enterprises, real shops that are focused on behavioral change.

The first example is Asparagus Patch, a pop-up restaurant opened by Claremont Farm in the city of Liverpool. It will only be open during asparagus season and has capitalized on a reliable stock supply from the farm. This is a clever tactic to drive trial of their produce into a city center, widening awareness of the farm—which is already a well-established enterprise that offers tours, activities, a cooking school, and a farm shop onsite. They have brought something new to city dwellers, instead of following a typical market-stall offering, but have also worked to keep a local farm personality in look and feel. They generated public interest by using Twitter and Facebook to let people know about the food on sale that day, special deliveries to the store, and one-off products or services available on specific afternoons (such as their partnership with retailer Lush that offered free asparagus facials in the store and products for sale).

The other example is the pop-up bar called Kahlua Coffee House, whose intention was to bring to life Mexican-inspired coffee cocktails, food, and films in a bar where entry is only by reservation or invitation. Kahlua teamed up with other local businesses to deliver cocktail master classes and a food menu, both inspired by Kahlua and its Veracruz Mexican heritage.

They supported the offering with an app that allows consumers to book master classes and get cocktail and food recipes. They also harnessed social media by being vocal and active on their Twitter page, which showcased Kahlua in conversations with followers and Tweeters, regular posts with recipe ideas for food and cocktails using Kahlua as a main ingredient, running competitions, and notifications of events at the bar. This shows how Twitter can be used as social glue, driving people to experience and visit a bar as well as changing behavior by encouraging purchase for use at home with the recipe ideas. It’s a fresh approach from Kahlua to recruit a new wave of fans for the brand.

The pop-up retail concept is great when delivered in an interesting and thoughtful way, harnessing social media to amplify and deliver trial, sales, and behavior change like these examples do.

The pop-up concept works to break the monotony of high-street shopping trips by ensuring that no two visits are the same. I hope to see pop-up retail continue to evolve and grow, so we can avoid repetitiveness and continuously fall in love with the high-street experience on offer!

by Nina White, Integer London.