Have you ever been the new boy/girl in class? I have. And if you’re anything like me, you sat at the back, trying to remain inconspicuous. You opted for the understated bag when deep down you really really wanted the My Little Pony one (no? Just me?), and you kept yourself to yourself in the playground. Eventually, you ease yourself gently into school life, making a friend here or there, getting involved in the odd team sport. Essentially, you blend. Yeah well, imagine pop up retail as the new kid on the cosmetics block, and imagine its entry into the market as the complete opposite of the above. Blend? Nah. A few friends here or there? No thanks, I’ll go full hog, says pop up retail. And full hog it has. In fact, I’ll name pop up’s recent suitors: Shiseido, Chanel, NARS, MAC, Unilever, Kylie Cosmetics. Need I go on? It’s got the ‘cool kids’ box ticked. And pop up retail has most definitely made an entrance, with the giants of beauty bending over backwards to make use of this new retail route. So just how and why have pop up stores become such big business? Of course, the retail wars are old news. High street is dead/online is king/high street is making a comeback – we know, we know. But where do pop up stores fit in this battle? Well, if this past year is anything to go by, they fit quite nicely thank you very much.
Let’s look at how the aforementioned behemoths are sharpening their pop up strategies: MAC launched at London Fashion Week, Chanel’s offered an arcade-themed store in Kuala Lumpur, while Kylie Cosmetics has perhaps taken the most interesting avenue and launched a pop up within Topshop – a blend of beauty and fashion in one of the world’s hottest clothes and accessory retailers? Yet another shrew move from the teen-Queen. Likewise, Unilever has angled the trend to its own agenda, having created a one-day pop up to highlight deforestation danger initiative for a campaign with WWF. Merging the pop up trend with eco-awareness, what more could the modern ethically-conscious consumer want? If you’re about to say food, then look no further than L’Occitane’s pop up offering, which is a café no less. So we’ve got pop ups and fashion (Jenner), pop ups and sustainability (Unilever) and pop ups and food (L’Occitane) – anyone spot a trend? The industry crossover movement continues. Indeed, even the suppliers are getting involved – Albéa proves that with its recent pop up store in Monaco where the company had a ‘Green Space’, ‘Formula Bar’ and ‘Pack + Formula’ offering.
Yes it seems that one of the many plus points about a pop up store is that it gives brands the fluidity and freedom to try new things, to innovate, to push boundaries. Because if it doesn’t work, no harm done. The risk factor is taken out due to short-lived nature of the space. And that, my friends, is why pop up concepts will surely abound going forward as the market looks to continually rejuvenate. As what is more refreshing that a store that literally is there one minute, gone the next? Indeed, parent companies such as ELC and LVMH boasting multiple brands all under one roof will surely lap up this fabulously freeing avenue – from one brand to the next the possibilities for reinvention, productivity and innovation are endless. Online and high street, this is most certainly one retail competitor to watch.