If old-time department stores were comprehensive, mom-and-pop stores friendly and big-box always low price, what kind of message does pop-up retail whisper into the ear of today’s customer?
“New, fun, something different,” says Wharton marketing professor Barbara E. Kahn. “Innovation and intrigue,” says pop-up leasing agent Christina Norsig, CEO/founder of PopUpInsider. Adds Wharton marketing professor Stephen J. Hoch: It’s about trying to “get people there all at the same time to create additional excitement, because it’s a pop-up, and it’s not going to be there much longer.”
As a concept, many industry experts say pop-up is here to stay, because it strikes both business owners and customers as a cure for the sense of retail ennui that has permeated the industry since the start of the recession. Pop-up has several distinct manifestations, but the basic format is that a retailer looking to sell something with a short shelf life, launch a brand or build awareness opens a storefront for a few days or weeks. Displays are put up, product is stocked, business is conducted and buzz created — and then it’s gone.