What is a pop up?
Why “pop up”?
Many pop-ups are emerging to test new locations for businesses. When businesses start performing well, the natural progression is toward expansion. However, opening a new store or restaurant is a huge commitment and what if your business does not perform as well elsewhere? To avoid the sunk costs of opening another permanent establishment, a pop up is a good way to test a new market. Pop-ups are also great marketing strategies so by establishing a rapport in a new location, a new store or restaurant will already have customers flowing in. For example, with the New York-style Bleecker St opening in London, Zan Kaufman wasn’t clear about the potential market in London for a burger joint. However, since 2012 Bleecker St has been a resounding success and even opened a permanent location in Old Spitalfields Market.
Pop-ups are also a good way to test out a new idea. When you are trying something very different in terms of the product you are offering, a pop-up is a great, cost effective way to check whether it would work. For example, Indian restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen started its own pop up in London in order to be more accessible to the average person. Attempting to increase its appeal with Joho Soho, Vivek Singh has launched this food truck since 2013, which offers British street-food with an Indian twist- like masala fish & chips and slow-roasted lamb on naan bread. The venture has been extremely successful in its experiment and thus, pop-ups are a great way to try out new business ideas. More than just serving as a platform for new ideas, pop ups also provide real-time feedback to businesses about whether an idea would work.
Opening a new store requires a lot of commitment, both in terms of time and the financial burden. It is an enormous sunk cost for a business and if the store doesn’t do well, it is extremely costly to shut down the business. However, with a pop-up, you can avoid this overwhelming financial burden. One of the biggest benefits of establishing a pop-up shop is its low cost. If the idea or product doesn’t sell, the owner of the store can close and move on without incurring huge costs. However, a pop-up still gives a business a physical presence and can establish a rapport with customers even before a permanent store opens.
Pop-ups are a great way to create awareness about a brand. Through social media, word-of-mouth and by being in popular stores or in close proximity to other pop-ups, pop-ups can generate awareness about particular businesses and begin to garner up loyal customers and some amount of notoriety. Mobile pop-ups like food trucks have a particular advantage here, in that they can go to various locations and spread awareness about the business and test out the market. So for example, with a food truck like Joho Soho, the street food kitchen can spread awareness about itself by serving food in a variety of different locations without incurring extremely high financial costs.
Opened in 2012 by former New York lawyer Zan Kaufman, Bluebird client Bleecker St. started with the vision of serving the best burger in London. The venture was extremely successful, with the burger truck earning notoriety on the London street-food scene. After its immense popularity and success across London, Bleecker St. opened its first permanent establishment in Old Spitalfields Market.
After testing out the market and London’s response to this American-style burger joint, the wheels came off and the business was ready to go from pop-up to permanent.
Opened in 2011 by founder and CEO Roger Wade, BOXPARK Shoreditch is the world’s first pop-up mall. Formulated solely from shipping containers, BOXPARK is filled with a mix of independent retailers, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and bars. After its tremendous success over the past few years, Wade has fought for the pop-up or independent retailer by creating a revolutionary Multichannel solution for customers of the BOXPARK stores to buy or share items in store, online and on their mobile. BOXPARK has been revolutionary for small and independent retailers, as the pop-ups are low cost and highly popular due to the notoriety of BOXPARK.
Is this a temporary trend?
“I think the idea of having a big, enormous four-story building where people come in and take something away is changing… People are just not searching for products the way they were 20 years ago. There is an awareness that everyone needs to be both offline and online.”
David Bell, Professor of Marketing, Wharton School of Business
The growth of pop-ups, though, is not a temporary trend. Pop-ups not only cater to consumers’ needs, they are also increasingly preferred by smaller business ventures- like restaurants and retailers- because they can save up to 80 percent by opening a pop-up instead of a brick-and-mortar business and have the benefit of testing an idea with no-strings attached.
Head of Retail for TfL, Stuart Anderson says, “From a consumer perspective, neither digital nor physical retail is enough for today’s shopper, and what pop-up shops are able to do is link the Internet world with the real world”.