Today we take it for granted that at the click of the mouse we can talk to, be seen with, and connect to virtually anyone around the globe.
Following some 3 months of enforced 'lockdown' what we are seeing is people wanting to physically 'socialise' and 'experience' the things they have been lacking.
As far as 'experiences' go physical retail (pre-Covid) in my opinion seems to have leaned too far into the transactional experience rather than what should be a combination of a social and shopping experience.
Like you I live in the real world of hard knocks retailing. A world that over these past few months has become even harder for all forms of retail, so anything that can provide an edge and a good enough reason to encourage consumers out into the high street has to be worthy of consideration - right?
Even those companies that have weathered the crisis so far are still having to deal with the tough social distancing rules along with the ingrained mindset of the 'Stay at Home' message we have been diligently fed by government.
Not too long ago we enjoyed the wonderful experience of those Christmas markets, so how about we approach this suggestion in the same mindset?
One area that I feel should be on the retail strategy playbook has to be that of pop-up stores.
Pop-ups are usually open for a short period of time – from as little as one day to several months. Primark’s first ever and very brief pop-up at Boxpark Shoreditch before the pandemic, and Harrods’ brand new concept outlet store at Westfield London to be open for at least five months, are prime examples of this.
Either way, the concept of pop-ups often capitalises on consumers’ fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) mentality. Today’s audience is constantly the next best thing, and pop-ups are a way for retailers to talk about and share their business with others at a time when experiences are a far greater currency than simple in-store transactions.
How we 'experience' something has a profound impact on who we socialise with, who we do business with, and who we might buy something from.
In former years we gained exposure to a brand and a company via adverts e.g. what they (the brand) told us they were, if we liked what they were saying we would then look to 'experience' the store, or the company to assess our 'purchase' decisions - all very much a physical process.
Today we have access to so much more information, and the global 'lockdown' changed behaviour so much that even the laggard of online consumer would seek out brands that could support then during enforced hibernation.
Meredith O’Shaughnessy, brand strategist at Meredith Collective, agreed with Yusupova. She added that “pop-ups are the place for retailers to make mistakes, learn, evolve and test”.
“It enables brands to inject a startup mentality into a retail experience, without budget-crushing investment,” she said.
“In addition, retailers that invest in pop-ups could simplify their access to connect with a wider customer base.”
My view to get this going would be your Visual merchandising team along with your preferred shop fitting/design company- I'm pretty sure they will create the theatre needed.
Is a 'pop-up' part of your retail playbook?
Pop-ups are no longer just a retail trend. From upcoming brands and small businesses to established luxury retailers and tech giants such as Amazon, it seems no area of retail has been left untapped in the pop-up world.