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The pop-up shop phenomenon is quite new to the South African market, yet it is one that is growing in popularity. It’s experiential marketing at its best – giving brands a unique opportunity to showcase themselves while allowing consumers a fully immersive brand experience.

What’s more, organising a pop-up event is fantastic for brand activations, where brands can test new products and concepts on a small segment of their market by allowing consumers an experience that goes far beyond what is offered by standard in-store promotions.

A pop-up store is by nature ephemeral, designed specifically to be a temporary event that ‘pops up’ for a limited period – from a few days, to weeks or sometimes 2 to 3 months. The fact that this type of experiential marketing is not permanent is what makes the pop-up shop concept exciting for consumers, creating hype and awareness around something unique.

Earlier this year, Woolworths tested the waters with a JTOne pop-up shop at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, cleverly positioned opposite luxury underwear store La Senza to reinforce JTOne’s ‘young and spirited’ brand personality. Another pop-up concept – The Street Store – is a uniquely South African idea that has taken root over the past couple of years. The goal of this pop-up is to promote awareness and collect donations for charity, rather than sell products. However, it’s clever and creative approach – using only bold posters and no rented space – is very effective, and is something that marketers can learn from.

Pop-up shops are often seen in shopping centres, making use of vacant store spaces. Because space is not permanently rented, there are limits with regards the shop fitting to create an engaging space. For certain brands, it may be hard to find spaces to rent. The challenge is to think out of the box and work creatively within these constraints.

Consider Bark & Co., who set up a pop-up shop for dogs in a park in New York, Birdseye, who created a pay-by-Instagram-post London pop-up restaurant, and Australian clothing brand Arnsdorf, who decorated a striking pop-up store on a budget, using nothing but 154 pairs of neutral-coloured pantyhose to decorate the space. The US make up brand Glossier developed a pop-up store in their New York headquarters, with a focus on detailed styling to showcase their products, reflective of the company’s Instagram posts.

A successful pop-up event is all about creativity and making the concept work in a minimal or challenging environment. While the pop-up concept is still in its infancy in South Africa, marketers can be inspired by these international brands – and give their ideas a uniquely local twist.

For more information on experiential marketing services, including pop-up shops and brand activations, contact Tradeway today.