Pop-Ups Are Popping Up Everywhere. Is The Return Worth The Investment?

For brands wanting to get their name in front of consumers, pop-ups have become the next big thing. At sporting events, local parks, and busy intersections, temporary pop-up formats are helping companies stand out in spontaneous, natural ways, as well as boost those that don’t have traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

Pop-ups are so popular, in fact, that industry experts suggest that worldwide, they generate over $10 billion in sales every year.

But not all pop-ups are created equal, and not all succeed. They can be a significant waste of time and resources if they’re not carefully planned and executed, and don’t meet each brand’s specific needs.

A start-up or industry disruptor, for instance, would probably approach pop-ups differently than an established brand.

Take Heinz, for example: a very established brand that does not need a pop-up to hand out samples of ketchup.

Similarly, Pepsi is a well-known brand that does not need a pop-up to hand out cans of Pepsi Cola.

But recently, Pepsi hosted a pop-up at Toronto’s Pride Parade – not for its cola, but for a new brand of carbonated water, Bubly. The parade was a perfect venue and brand fit, and everyone who visited the pop-up received a free Bubly. It was an effective way to grab attention and help consumers see Pepsi differently.

However, for industry disruptors—Beyond Meat, for example, or Wealthsimple—the approach to pop-ups would be different. For these brands, the pop-up is serving as a point of brand entry: an opportunity to introduce these companies to consumers and encourage them to try completely new products and services.

Wealthsimple being an exception, banks typically don’t need to introduce their financial services. But they can use pop-ups to introduce new products or change consumer perception. A case in point: Many of today’s banks are looking to shift resources to wealth management as mortgages become less profitable. Pop-ups centering around advice- and wealth management could help consumers see these institutions differently – and as more than just their mortgage company.

Brand and motive aside, however, it’s important to remember that the most significant aspect of pop-ups is what happens after they’ve been dismantled. The connections made and relationships created at the event or the park or the street corner must now be followed up on.

The data collected and insight generated via the pop-up must be leveraged – ideally through geocentric targeting and personalized communications that build on the brand awareness and customer connections.

And therein lies the true value of the pop-up: establishing immediate relevance, and serving as the perfect vehicle for driving deeper, long-term loyalty.