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Bringing some surprise to retail

November 1, 2004

With some much retail, especially mall and big box, all looking the same, many players are looking out for new ways to use retail as a brand communication tool. The temporary store is one tactic designed to generate buzz and excitement.

For years, Target have created unusual stores in Manhattan; one Holiday season they converted a boat into a store and they recently had a temporary store in Times Square, selling items for a breast cancer charity. One year, even Yahoo had a holiday store in the Rockefeller Center.

The trend is now all over Europe, for stores targeting a younger demographic. Here, the important elements are discovery and surprise. Its really nothing new; small boutiques in Tokyo and across Europe have often been located in out of the way places. Un-numbered doors and stores down back alleys are commonplace. It’s also used by boutique sneaker stores like The Rivington Club in New York. Now it’s being adopted by bigger teen brands looking to add cool. These brands use the temporary aspect to add excitement.

The original tactic for coolest youth stores was designed to attract only the savviest and smartest shoppers and was borrowed from club culture, where the use of secret venues and locations was a marketing tactic. The first people to do this for retail, were small boutique entrepreneurs; one even toured their store around the world like a rock band.,1569,1343452,00.html

Now the pop-up store is ripe for mass adoption by mainstream brands. These stores will not be stealth like, with un-numbered doors, they will be heavily advertised and promoted- especially if they only exist for a month of less.

It will be interesting to see which bigger brands try to latch on to the craze and follow Target’s lead. Using pop-up stores is a way to launch new lines or just excitement to the brand. Some potential candidates could include; Abercrombie or one of its new related concepts, Levi’s (could extend what they are already doing), The Gap (who are exploring new concepts and are looking for ways to freshen the main brand), The Limited’s Victoria Secret (who are always interested in the spectacular) and even JC Penney, K-Mart or Sears, all brands looking for ideas to revitalize their image.

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