4 Ways Pop-Up Shops are Perfect for Customer Insights


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When it comes to customer experience, there are many traditional methods that companies use in order to engage with customers in the hopes of converting them into brand evangelists. But with a stiff level of competition, big brands armed with capital, and a saturated marketplace of ideas, how does a company stand out these days? One recent trend which deserves exploration is pop-up shops.

It’s like the pages of your favorite magazine come to life: Perfectly curated products and services in one convenient, low-commitment location for awe-struck passerby’s to check out. Pop-up shops have enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last two years, and it’s easy to imagine why. With retail space coming at a premium and Internet retailers looking for a brick-and-mortar presence, pop-up shops are a low-cost way to test waters, try out new products, and even raise awareness for a new brand.

Pop-Up Shop Marketing

By offering a select amount of products for a short amount of time, you experience customer behavior in a vacuum. It’s possible to learn more about how customers react to a new product or design during a weekend in a pop-up shop than months spent sending out Web feedback surveys. Here are four key areas in which you can gain outstanding customer insight from a pop-up shop.

1. Testing New Revenue Streams

Pop-up shops allow a low-commitment method of conducting real-time research in a focus group-type setting. If you have a new product to offer, for instance, a pop-up shop is an ideal way to allow real customers experience the product, as well as offer opinions and reactions that you can use to improve upon before a widespread release.

The same treatment can be given to factors such as rebranding or a change in design: Pop-up shops invite your target customers to give casual feedback that you can use to make a product, service, or store more appealing to the people most likely to buy.

2. Causing Planned Spontaneity

By their very nature, pop-up shops are designed to cause spontaneous purchasing decisions for customers. It’s true that some brand fans might hear about and specifically plan to visit a pop-up shop, but the vast majority will simply pass by and stop to see what all the fuss is about.

What better way to test your organization’s shelf appeal or product desirability than through inspiring a spontaneous reaction with a pop-up shop? As customers spontaneously stop, interact, and even buy via a pop-up shop, you can better measure overall appeal and brand attitude in an off-the-cuff way.

One potential result from spontaneous shops is free PR. Any local newspaper or blog will be inclined to give it coverage, as pop-up shops simply aren’t commonplace…yet.

3. Testing Brand Awareness

Pop-up shops are meant to cause a buzz around a certain brand, product or service. Take the relationship between Nordstrom and BaubleBar, for instance: Nordstrom allowed BaubleBar to use up retail space and share customers while testing the buzzworthy factor before inviting BaubleBar to sell accessories on Nordstrom’s shelves.

It’s a symbiotic relationship between brands to test whether or not a product is enough to get customers excited about coming into the shop. Branded hashtags and social media sharing then become buzz barometers to see what the general public thinks about a brand.

This tactic also allows smaller companies or brands with tight budgets to save money by approaching an existing retailer to use their space.

4. Initiating a Live Experience

When feedback surveys are the norm for customer satisfaction measurement, the value of a live experience between brand and customer cannot be exaggerated. Face-to-face conversation and allowing customers to touch and feel a new product can be doubly as effective as hearing about a product or even seeing a commercial. Think of pop-up shops as the ultimate in store sampling: They allow customers to have a positive interaction with the brand, therefore starting a course for awareness and eventually, loyalty.

As customers step into a pop-up shop and onto the pages of a perfectly curated and coordinated lifestyle magazine, brands gain valuable data about who the customer is and how they interact with products. Not only will diehard fans flock to a short-lived event for an exclusive brand, but curiosity can win them over when checking out something new.

Future Investment

Offering face-to-face interactions by way of pop-up shop marketing can get old and new customers alike to offer valuable insight into what they want–and what they’re willing to do to get it. The hope and expectation is that these new customers become brand advocates, thereby creating a lifelong customer, and more importantly, a lifelong evangelist.

Joseph Hellman-Benjamin
Joseph Hellman-Benjamin is a marketer with two roles: moonlighting as an editor for tech blogStartups #nofilter, and recently launched The Points King, a mileage broker website. Joe has worked with a number of small and medium sized businesses on their marketing copy, brand messaging, and website content. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn!


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