Pop-Up Shops 101: Everything You Need To Know About Marketing’s Biggest Trend

07.25.2019 Trending Topics

To compete in today’s marketplace, brands can’t use a one-size-fits all marketing strategy anymore. In order to stand out, marketers are thinking outside the box with new promotional and retail tactics that engage consumers outside of traditional channels. One extremely effective, yet highly creative, trending tactic that brands are using to engage with customers in new and creative ways is the pop-up shop.

What is a pop-up shop?

A pop-up shop is a retail store that opens temporarily to take advantage of a specific location, season, product, or target market. Pop-up shops are especially popular within the apparel industry, but they can serve a valuable purpose to promote all kinds of products.

Pop-up shops first rose to popularity in the 1990s in major cities such as London, NYC, and Tokyo, but you can find them today in pretty much any urban center. They’re a fun way for brands to test products, visual merchandising, or services in new markets, and they also allow for more creative freedom since they’re so short-lived and non-committal.

For example, Perrier Sparkling Water opened “The Perrier Flavor Studio” in 2017, a 5-day pop-up store in the heart of NYC’s Soho neighborhood. Perrier’s pop-up included a mixology mocktail bar, a bubble ball pit, and a digital coloring book – a well-designed, Insta-worthy experience to celebrate the launch of its new fruity flavors. When it comes to pop-up shops, creativity has no limit.

Perrier Flavor Studio Pop-Up Shop in NYC (PRNewsfoto/Perrier)

What are the benefits of a pop-up shop?

From creating memorable interactions with customers to closing more sales, there are six major benefits of pop-up shops for brands.

  1. Connect With Customers

Pop-up shops are a great opportunity to bring new customers in-store to meet your representatives and try your products. Since pop-up shops are typically small in size, it’s the perfect environment for brand representatives to personally engage with shoppers and educate them on specific product benefits.

If you’re an online-only brand, this benefit is twofold. By opening a pop-up shop, you can drive in-person engagement like never before and put a face to the name of your business, so to speak. You’re no longer an anonymous website – you have real people working for you, which your customers will appreciate.

  1. Sell More Product

Did you know 95% of all purchases are still completed offline? Pop-up shops are an excellent way to boost sales, or even test out the whole brick-and-mortar concept if you’re an online-only business. Pop-up shops aren’t a long-term commitment, so there’s more flexibility with this approach. If your products are already popular online or in other market locations, pop-up shops are a great way to place your products within reach of a new audience, thus boosting sales and consumer interest in your brand.

  1. Build Brand Awareness

Pop-up shops generate buzz and excitement in the cities they sweep, so they’re an excellent tool for building brand awareness, especially in new markets. Local media outlets are always tracking new businesses coming in or out of city centers, so you’ll most likely get mentioned in print or online media – or both! Not to mention, most pop-up shops are specifically designed to be eye-catching – the perfect place for shoppers to snap and share a #PopUpShop pic.

Pop Up Shop

InStyle + Dyson Supersonic Presents Behind the Strands Pop Up Shop (MAG)

  1. Cost-Effective Launch

Renting a traditional store space can be expensive. With rising real estate rates, it’s a risky commitment to sign a year-long lease, especially if you’re unsure if your business will be successful. Pop-up shops, however, are 80% cheaper to launch as compared to traditional retail locations, and there are no strings attached. Pop-up shops are typically open anywhere from three days to three months, so it’s a short-term option with possible long-term payouts.

  1. Test New Markets

If an NYC-based brand is looking to extend its reach to California, it can definitely be a daunting task. Will the sleek, simple vibe of the Big Apple stand up to the LA sun? By launching a pop-up shop, you can easily test your brand in new markets to gauge the popularity of your products and get a pulse on local trends and consumer preferences. Even better? You can scope out the market while you’re there and bring fresh ideas back to your home base. Our MAG experiential team recently dove into why location is very important to your pop-up shop – read more here. 

CNN at the Movies Pop Up Shop in NYC (MAG)

  1. Take Advantage Of Busy Seasons

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the two biggest shopping days of the year. Capitalize on shopper excitement by opening a pop-up shop during that time of peak customer engagement. By taking advantage of busy selling seasons, a pop-up shop can turn one-time customers into lifelong brand loyalists who look forward to re-visiting your store – both online and in-person – year after year.

Pop-up shops also provide brands with a larger-than-normal store footprint during busy shopping seasons, which allows them to service more shoppers, make more sales, and build more relationships. Goodbye, long holiday lines. Hello, meaningful customer interactions!

Who can open a pop-up shop?

Anybody can benefit from launching a pop-up shop. Brands like Birchbox, West Elm, IKEA, Kylie Cosmetics, and Leesa Mattress have all launched successful pop-up shops to boost their brand’s reputation and in-store sales. Intel – a major producer of electronics – opened 3 pop-up shops in 2013 to develop community partnerships and raised $50,000 for local schools – proof that pop-ups can serve multiple purposes!

Aside from big name brands, small, local artists and even eclectic vintage stores have all been successful in opening pop-up shops to test out new audiences and push their creativity to the next level. Truly, pop-ups are for everyone.

How much does a pop-up shop cost?

Like most things in life, it really just depends. Location, duration, and size are all determining factors when considering pop-up shop costs. When budgeting for your pop-up shop, you’ll want to consider these things:

  • Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly rental costs
  • Utility costs such as electricity and plumbing
  • Promotional materials like signs and in-store displays
  • Temporary hires to assist with influx of new shoppers
  • Display fabrication and custom building projects

There’s no point opening a pop-up shop if it doesn’t look great, so you definitely don’t want to skimp on the essentials.

FOX Grandfathered Pop-Up Barbershop in LA (MAG)

How much time does it take to plan a pop-up shop?

With a pop-up shop, you only have one chance to make a good impression, so it’s important to take your time with the planning process to ensure success. Be sure to draw up your designs, stock your inventory, and solidify the look and feel of your retail displays months in advance of the official launch date. Overall, it’s a good idea to allow for at least 3-6 months of planning, depending on how much customization your pop-up will require.

If you’re looking to make additional hires to enhance the pop-up shop experience, it’s a great idea to look into assisted sales reps who are professionally trained to tell your brand story and educate the industry on your products. The pop-up shop environment is unlike anything else, so it’s essential to have the right people in place who can handle hectic retail situations. If you’re looking to hire assisted sales reps, plan to do so sooner rather than later.

How do you staff a pop-up shop?

After you’ve secured the perfect location for your pop-up shop, it’s important to consider who’s going to manage the day-to-day logistics of it and interact with your customers. Chances are, you can’t relocate a whole team of employees to the pop-up shop just for a few weeks. The hotel costs alone would be astronomical. With so many resources already spent on the pop-up shop launch, hiring the right staff can seem like an afterthought – but it should actually be the most important aspect of the entire process! In fact, 52% of shoppers say good customer service influences them to purchase more products.

If you don’t have the right pop-up shop team in place, you may lose out on valuable opportunities for success. How will your new audience of customers learn about your products? If there’s not enough staff to properly assist shoppers and elevate your in-store experience, what type of impression will they walk away with? When it comes to prepping your pop-up shop for success, you should absolutely consider hiring a 3rd party staffing agency who not only specializes in experiential marketing, but also brand advocacy, training, and visual merchandising. By trusting an expert who has a proven track record of success in designing custom retail strategies, you’re leaving nothing to chance.


If you’re looking for a fun way to boost your brand’s recognition, test out new consumer markets, or develop a creative campaign that pushes the boundaries of your current marketing initiatives, a pop-up shop is the way to go. Ready to start planning? Contact our team of experiential experts today.

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