Are pop-up shops passé?


The pop-up phenomenon that swept the retail and restaurant world seems to have taken root, but I fear that as with most trends, they are teetering on the edge of becoming passé.

Brands from all sectors have opened pop-up stores with varying degrees of success and as a concept they can be a great tool for a brand if used properly.

Last year cosmetic brand Maybelline opened a pop-up store in London designed to recreate the backstage ambiance of New York Fashion Week, something that fits 100% into the brand’s purpose.

But, the rise in so-called pop-up shops and restaurants has started to debase the point of doing it in the first place.

A pop-up shop shouldn’t be about shopping. It should be about the brand awareness, engagement and about making an impact by interrupting the consumer with something relevant that adds value in some form.

I don’t take issue with properly engaging pop-up shops which work for the brand, I take issue with jumping on a bandwagon.

Much like the film world is currently plagued with third-rate 3D movie releases just because the option is there, it doesn’t mean they are any good, for the brand, or the consumer.

Clarks says it is opening a “pop-up shop” for its Originals brand as part of its spring/summer campaign, its first campaign to promote the brand’s connection with the music scene.

Clarks Originals gained cult following with indie bands like Oasis and The Verve and more bizarrely in Jamaica where they have long been revered as a symbol of upward social mobility, and more recently enjoyed a revival when Jamaican Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel sang, or rather rapped, about them last year.

With all this in mind, Clarks Originals is a brand that could genuinely create a pop-up brand experience with great success. However what it’s actually doing is a little less exciting.

At the risk of falling into semantics, making one floor of its own existing Piccadilly store, a dedicated Clarks Originals area, isn’t a pop-up shop, it’s a new store layout.

No one is going to be surprised of intrigued to find it there. It also won’t drive any new engagement with the brand because the only people that are going to stumble across it, are those that have already chosen to go into the Clarks store.

By calling this a pop-up store, Clarks is missing the point of what it’s doing, and doing genuinely effective pop-up stores and the brands that use them, a disservice.


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