Creative Pop-Up Shops Do These 5 Things

 “Why live an ordinary life, when you can live an extraordinary one.” – Tony Robbins

Has anyone ever said you are “extra”? If you’re not familiar with this popular slang use of the word, being “extra” suggests you are over the top, either in one area or even in general. It means you act in some way that is much more than is necessary. But, is it a bad thing?

A Medium article says no, and the writer explains by giving examples of “extra” people. Among them is prominent life coach, Tony Robbins. Robbins is known for his high energy and extraordinary passion. His appearances usually include yelling, cursing, dancing, and even firewalking. One review describes the experience as “a rock concert, somewhat religious awaking, and emotional bootcamp all rolled into one.” Robbins’ seminars are extra, because he is. But, being so is likely what helped him overcome an unstable childhood. Going the extra mile at all times is what helped him expand his horizons from his days as a janitor to today’s stature as a multi-millionaire. At the end of the day, it’s what makes him different from other life coaches who haven’t seen his level of success.

Being “extra” also worked in a similar manner for online luxury consignment start up, The RealReal. So much so, the retailer declared this year to be “the year of the pop-up,” in pursuit of the success of its first pop-up shop in 2016. And that first activation not only showcased high-end apparel. It included a café and a flower shop, private shopping times for VIP clientele, and educational workshops. The goal was to increase brand awareness. But, it accomplished much more – a reported two million dollars in sales. In fact, the average order value was “six times that of online orders.”

Creative pop-up shops, like The RealReal’s, harness the power of being extra to deliver extraordinary results and expand a brand’s horizons. And, the truth is, it’s necessary to garner the attention and traffic you need to be successful.

Why Pop-Up Shops Must Be “Extra”

Pop-up shops are nothing new. One article recalls Target’s role in pioneering the concept back in 2002, its own afloat on the Hudson River. It’s the rise of pop-up shops in recent years that’s led people to identify them as a trend. But, the editor of Retail TouchPoints says otherwise. Pop-up shops have “definitely become another retail channel.” In fact, in 2016 in the U.S., the segment was valued at $50 billion. Temporary storefronts are on every main street, in every mall, within stores, and beyond. This makes their existence no longer unique, which means brands must find ways other than novelty or FOMO to bring in crowds and foster real connections. Event marketers and agencies must get creative to be extraordinary.

5 Ways Creative Pop-Up Shops Become Extraordinary

Event marketers and agencies can maximize their pop-up shop’s results when they do these five things:

1. Go where other brands aren’t.

The RealReal’s plan for 2018 was to go the extra mile on roads less traveled. It would attempt to reach those “who aren’t so accustomed to the pop-up frenzy that shoppers in cities like New York and Los Angeles are familiar with.” Its first stop for the year was Las Vegas. And, it wasn’t the only brand branching out and trying new locations.

Other fresh destinations that smart brands are “popping” up in are airports, with London’s Heathrow Airport providing prime examples over the past year with Kate Spade New York, Virgin Atlantic, and Louis Vuitton having come and gone. We’ve also seen creative pop-up shops constructed in green spaces and even in workspaces. London-based ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy, built a “cartoon-inspired pop-up workspace” in its front window, allowing the agency to interact with the community.

2. Give consumers a deeper look into – or another view of – the brand’s identity.

Brands must be authentic to win consumers’ trust and business. So, creative pop-up shops will share info people have yet to discover. Take luxury fashion brand, Coach, and its “Life Coach” activation, as an example. Many may not know the brand’s 70+ year roots are in New York, the site for the six-day pop-up shop. Its home base also served to provide inspiration for its attractions. These included a subway-themed area, where visitors could add to the graffiti, and one based on Coney Island, which featured Skee-Ball and the Zoltar fortune telling machine, among others. References to Coach’s culture were scattered throughout. This gave consumers a better understanding of the brand and allowed them to have fun in the process.

3. Provide a shared experience.

Imagine the memories created when two friends or family members or a couple, for instance, contributed to the Life Coach graffiti. This is one of the reasons consumers prefer to buy experiences over material goods. They want to build bonds and create memories with loved ones. Physical space alone doesn’t foster relationships. But shared experiences will do the trick.

One experience people – friends, siblings, and even parents and children – often share together is getting a tattoo. Knowing the draw, Lenovo capitalized on this shared experience with its Pop-up Tattoo Parlour, Illuminated Ink. The only difference was its tattoos weren’t permanent. Instead, the brand promoted its YOGA Tab 3 Pro, which projected tattoos on visitors’ bodies, letting them see what the tattoo would look like – without committing. At the same time, the Lenovo brand became engrained in visitors’ memories of the shared experience.

Brand Ambassador of the Month Vanya4. Use technology to wow consumers (and benefit business).

Virtual reality (VR) is projected to be in mainstream use by consumers by the end of 2018. And, though marketers were slow to adopt it as part of their efforts, they’ve shown growth this year. One such example is the “Steph VR” creative pop-up shops hosted by Under Armour and NBA star Stephen Curry. The events will feature (and sell) new, exclusive sneaker colorways, with each colorway “inspired by a different part of Curry’s career and life.” They will be brought to life using Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus. The technology immerses users in Curry’s life to bring them closer to his brand, while helping sell the Under Armour product.

Event tech can also be applied to not only wow consumers, but to gain valuable consumer insight and improve business. Online retailer illustrated this with its Manhattan pop-up shop, BarkShop Live. There, dogs were put in vests that tracked their moves and captured their toy preferences. This made it easy for consumers to buy their dog’s choices and have them shipped right to their doorsteps. And, BarkShop learned more about its customers and products.

5. Carefully curate staff.

The plans for creative pop-up shops are brought to life by event staff. And, the more inventive the plans, the more demands that may be placed on these individuals. Looking back at The RealReal and its plans for this year’s pop-up series, the brand’s stakeholders would place a “premium on expertise.” This would not only include authentication specialists and gemologists. “Even the more general roster of in-store sales staff” was heavily vetted. They know, without the right individuals, their plans may fall flat, leaving money on the table and tarnishing the brand’s efforts and reputation. The good news is, event staffing agencies can provide professional staff with varied skills. They can find and train those who can expertly sell product, create an experience, build bonds, and happily run POS systems, too.

Ensuring your pop-up shop has the right staff – staff who are “extra”– in place can make all the difference between achieving ordinary and extraordinary results.


At Elevate, we have the ins on the extraordinary event staff for the best creative pop-up shops. Contact us to discuss your plans and let us help maximize results and expand your brand’s horizons.

Author: Nick Riggall


Challenger Brands Find Marketing Disruption Through Experiential (Elevate Connect)


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