Are ‘pop up’ stalls the new black?

(07 /01 /2015)

Pop-up stalls are pretty “in” right now – they seem to be everywhere and everyone seems to be getting in on the action.  Cleaning products, kitchen whiz-bang appliances, dvd stalls, the good old food stall and even bridal boutiques!  That’s right, hundreds of wedding dresses on display in a temporary pop-up stall…there’s even a TV show dedicated to this one!

The point is, there’s no end to what products can be displayed in a pop-up stall and they can appear pretty much anywhere there is vacant space.  Events like the “Sunday Markets” are a treasure chest of pop-up stalls – some are even very professionally designed and really stand out amongst the car boots and trestle tables.  The hospitality industry is also no stranger to pop-up restaurants – “Eat Street Markets” consist entirely of pop-up stalls offering everything from snacks like donuts to plates overflowing with food that wouldn’t be astray in a five star establishment.

The key thing about the pop-up stall though is that it is temporary.  It exists for a limited amount of time, usually no longer than a week or two.  Adidas really went to town with a pop-up store last year, opening a giant shoe-box to celebrate the launch of a new line of tennis shoes.  It stayed on location for one week, offering unique interactive activities to its customers before shutting its doors and heading off to its next location.  What set this pop-up stall from others was its unique presentation – the shoe-box with its three iconic stripes helped to reinforce the Adidas brand reaffirming its positioning as a superior sporting brand.  This quirky approach to marketing ensured a memorable buyer experience that ultimately can only be experienced by a certain number of individuals.

But could this type of stall work in the hospitality space?  Would customers really like to eat a meal inside a giant hamburger for example?  Before answering that question, we need to consider the pros and cons of pop-up stalls.  Pop-ups can offer a business great PR, especially those of a quirky nature.  Since they’re only in situ for a limited amount of time, buzz can be generated relatively easily, pulling in customers and generating word-of-mouth promotion.  They also allow intimate one-on-one interaction with customers enabling immediate product testing and feedback.  Cheap or free rent on space is also an option and since the stalls can be assembled pretty much anywhere, they can take advantage of empty retail spaces or communal areas with high customer traffic.  There are however, a number of cons that need to be considered before launching a pop-up stall.  While it is possible to save money on space rental, free space is often hard to find.  You must also remember, that even if you do find the perfect location for your stall, the pop-up is temporary and you won’t be able to utilise the space for an extended period of time.  Pop-ups can also be expensive to custom-build, especially if you’re trying to develop something quirky and memorable like the Adidas store.  And of course, transport, insurance and safety costs could also be high and beyond a conservative budget.  Budget will also be required for promotion and while this is no different to promotion of a permanent fixture, the expense may be seen as wasteful given the temporary nature of the pop-up stall.

So back to our original question of whether a quirky, custom-built pop-up stall could work in the hospitality space.  I think the answer is yes – many pop-up restaurants already successfully operate but to go that step further with something like the Adidas box for a restaurant, will require a high degree of planning and perhaps a higher budget than what might be required for a more traditional permanent establishment.  It’s not just the shop front that must be considered – the logistics of setting up and manning a fully functioning kitchen capable of meeting customer demand could be difficult and very time consuming.  Perhaps food-trucks are the ultimate pop-up stall in the hospitality space?  Food for thought…but that’s a discussion for another day.

Link to Adidas article: http://www.creativeguerrillamarketing.com/guerrilla-marketing/adidas-creates-new-pop-store-giant-shoebox/#

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