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Brands Create Poppin’ Consumer Experiences

Published on November 3, 2020, at 6:45 p.m.
by Grace Evans.

What concept blends consumers’ desire for experiences with social media promotion opportunities and unique brand engagement? The answer is pop-up shops. Pop-ups are one of the newest forms of brand activation that aim to use timeliness and creativity to capture new and current consumers’ attention.

Photo by Pop Zebra on Unsplash

According to Statista, 55% of consumers choose to shop at and visit pop-up shops for “exclusive products and experiences,” and 49% are looking for excitement and entertainment. The short lifespan of these pop-ups creates uniqueness for these events that drive consumer interest.

Consumers also want events and experiences they can post, share and tweet about. “In an experience-based economy, having a photo on social media is sometimes more valuable than making a purchase,” said Gerald Storch, CEO of retail advisory firm Storch Advisors.

One Forbes article also noted that “these experiences will … be documented extensively by consumers and influencers on Instagram or Snapchat, creating an organic advertisement campaign that travels through valuably linked networks.” Creating shared media opportunities are important to brands looking to attract millennials and Generation Z — these consumers will travel great distances and even pay more due to the value they place on stimulation and adventure.

Over the last five years, brands across the globe have increasingly utilized pop-ups to capitalize on the shift from traditional advertising to innovative experiential publicity, many that have achieved surprising success. More importantly, an increased focus on in-person involvement can not only attract consumers but also retain them by providing new ways of experiencing a brand.

Top Nosh
Planning and design company Taylor and Hov created pop-up social media restaurant Top Nosh, in Washington, D.C. The first event required guests to have at least 5,000 Twitter or Instagram followers, to follow the “three companies involved in the pop-up on social media” and to post during the night, making sure to mention the companies via their platform handles.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Because the meals were free for attendees, there was a concern people wouldn’t post, rendering the event too costly to continue. But after realizing that 95% of people posted after the first event, co-creator Sugar Taylor explained, “People naturally post everything they’re doing.”

The event proved the advantages of using influencers in promotional events and their innate eagerness to post on their channels to reach mass audiences. These influencers provide user-generated content and keep their own followers in the loop during these events, driving exposure to the companies and enticing relevant target publics to follow the brands.

Fast-Food Aid
Tokyo health-food restaurant Dohtonbori commissioned design studio Kaibutsu to create the “world’s first supplement shop for fast foods.” The “pharmacy” offered free pills to “replace the missing nutrients from foods such as hamburgers, pizza and ramen” in exchange for a customer’s recent fast-food receipt.

The pop-up aimed to create awareness of how unhealthy fast-food chains are and to educate consumers through professional advice listed on the bottles. According to Spikes Asia, 5,000 customers visited within the first week and created earned media value of over $10 million for Dohtonbori. This pop-up engaged a new audience, one that didn’t prioritize healthy eating, and encouraged them to embark on a lifestyle change, beginning with visiting Dohtonbori.

Pantone Cafe
Designed by restaurateur and creator Riccardo Giraudi, the Pantone Cafe is exactly what the name suggests — a “bistro influenced by the color identification system [Pantone].” The aesthetic radiated viral-worthy content, with each menu item assigned a specific color and packaging to match. Customers could try a “Pistachio Green” eclair (Pantone 13-0221) or an “Espresso Macchiato” coffee (Pantone 7574) during their visit.

This full sensory experience wasn’t just for show, however, and its success generated a spinoff pop-up location in New York for one weekend in July 2019. Deemed “Instagrammable” by fans, this concept aimed to provide a visual feast for the eyes of consumers who couldn’t help but post on their platforms. By expanding into dining, Pantone proved it could re-target existing consumers by showing them how to view its products in an unconventional way.

What’s next?
Many brands are learning to experiment with retail formats outside of traditional brick-and-mortar concepts. However, with a COVID-19-shaped wrench thrown in most companies’ plans, there has never been a better opportunity to further transform the industry by creating derivative approaches. Pop-up stores have the ability to bring back something every consumer has missed during 2020 — connection and in-person interaction.

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