Pop-ups: The Experiment Zone

Kit and Ace Eh-Frame Pop-Up (Cape Cod). Photo:  Addicted To Retail

Kit and Ace Eh-Frame Pop-Up (Cape Cod). Photo: Addicted To Retail

By Linda Farha, Founder and Chief Connector, pop-up go

It’s no secret that the temporary nature of pop-ups is what makes them so successful. It’s a tried and true method of leveraging consumers’ FOMO (fear of missing out).

From a strategy perspective, this lack of permanency is what lays the foundation for, what we call, the experiment zone.

When you’ve got an established brand, it can be hard to step outside your business norms. With more permanent endeavours, the goal is usually sustainability, which means there is pressure to play it safe.

With pop-ups, you have more freedom to experiment because impact becomes more important than sustainability. The buzz you build, the curiosity you pique, and the novelties you exploit are what matters most for short-term colossal success.

Coke Pop-Up Store in Boston. Photo:  Global Toy News

Coke Pop-Up Store in Boston. Photo: Global Toy News

Hermes Pop-Up Store in Hong Kong. Photo:  Global Toy News

Hermes Pop-Up Store in Hong Kong. Photo: Global Toy News

Adidas  Pop-Up Store  in London. Photo: Global Toy News

Adidas Pop-Up Store in London. Photo: Global Toy News

Next time you plan a pop-up, lean into the idea that this is your chance to work outside the box. Use the experiment zone to:

Offer a limited time product or service

Do you have a really cool idea that just doesn’t make sense for your business model? Use your pop-up to bring it to life, no strings attached. Chances are, you’ll impress your consumers with something your competitors haven’t even thought of.

Tailor your brand to the local market

Don’t miss out on leveraging local insights, just because it doesn’t perfectly align with your long-term brand goals. Tailor your pop-up to the local market to create an “in” for your brand. It’s only temporary, so you can strategically introduce your brand to the market without losing focus on your long-term goals.

Test new retail design concepts

As you execute your pop-up, assess your sales metrics and feedback daily to see what strategies are working. Maybe your unexpected best seller needs to be moved to the front of the store. Use your experimental mindset and this instantaneous feedback loop to adapt your pop-up in real time. 

The pop-up experiment zone is a powerful tool for brands to test new waters. In a fast-paced industry, using every opportunity to evolve your business could mean the difference between success and failure. So, embrace the provisional.

Linda Farha is founder of Toronto-based Zenergy Communications as well pop-up go, an online platform that helps pair retailers with available temporary retail spaces, which also features a curated pop-up match service that provides access to the ever-growing pipeline of pop-up seekers looking for space.

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