The pop-up phenomenon started in Europe a number of years ago and has taken off across North America. Here are five reasons why a pop-up activation could benefit your brand.


Brand Storytelling

Pop-ups can be an essential part of the marketing mix and an opportunity for brand storytelling. While often associated with retail and fashion, pop-ups can encompass pretty much anything that allows a brand to connect with its target customer in an intimate way to tell their story by creating a connection in an experiential environment. If properly executed, a pop-up can help lead go-to-market strategies and guarantee success.


Take Flax and Spool, an e-commerce site, for example. They chose to pop-up at a well-known macaron parlor in Vancouver to launch a product so that they could physically engage with new customers and test the brick and mortar world. Likewise, musicians such as Kanye West and The Weekend have utilized pop-ups to drive brand awareness pre-concert, to sell merchandise and create a ‘story’ around the concert they are promoting. Through their inclusive nature, these pop-up booths provide another consumer touch point to help drive brand positioning.


Shifting preferences from ‘oneness’ to personalization.

While entrepreneurs have been making use of the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ sales strategy for decades, the current widespread trend for pop-ups is unprecedented. A combination of factors is responsible for this growth: there’s consumer demand for experience-driven shopping (propelled largely by millennials), strong market interest for newness and unique experiences, and the fact that despite the rise of e-commerce, brands realize they still need to connect with their audience on a personal level. And with millennials in particular looking to support unique, local brands, it goes without saying that widely distributed brands are struggling to appeal to this group. In an age where personalization rules, pop-ups are the perfect solution to tailor in order to appeal to new markets and/or evaluate market accessibility. In fact, they can serve as a modern focus group.


Leveraging the food craze.

Specialty food networks have created an insatiable appetite for culinary experiences; so much so that the food industry has leveraged the pop-up trends to bring their fare to consumers and in doing so, boost brand awareness. The millennials demographic is often targeted not only for their spending power, but because this group is reported to dine out three to four times per week on average (yes, they rule our world…for now). An added benefit of the pop-up dining experiences is that when located within larger stores and malls, these activation help make the retail locale itself more of a destination. They add to consumers’ overall shopping experience and encourage shoppers to stay longer. This movement is indicative of the need for retail formats to change and adapt to shifting consumer demands with creative, mixed-use spaces.


The space as a brand

Whether a pop-up is financially successful for the entrepreneur or not, they are also becoming a welcome solution for underused/partially used commercial spaces, with some units becoming pop-up destination hot spots. Large retailers and shopping centres are welcoming pop-ups and more and more are building dedicated spaces to host them. In fact, several major shopping centres and retailers have partnered with online brands to host a continually evolving rotation of pop-up stores.


In Toronto, the ‘FashionCAN’ pop-up at Yorkdale Mall and ‘POP-in@Nordstrom’ are two such examples of dedicated spaces to house recurring pop-up shops, usually on a monthly rotation, driving foot traffic and unique pop-up entrepreneurs. In the U.S., the same phenomenon is occurring with Westfield Corp and Simon Property Group the like making pop-ups necessary fixtures to decrease vacancy rates and boost revenue. The pop-up owner benefits from massive exposure, decreased costs and access to new markets, while the hosting retailer can broaden its appeal by offering products and services normally not available to their typical customers.


Getting the help you need.

An industry unto itself has emerged from the pop-up trend, and companies such as pop-up go have become a resource for both space seekers and space owners/managers, providing them with a platform where they can post, view and inquire about relevant short-term commercial spaces. On pop-up go, the space owner and the space seeker can connect. The site also offers integrated support for both pop-ups and landlords. This could be anything from developing the overall look and feel of the store to specialized marketing support through its parent company Zenergy Communications. What’s more, pop-up go offers individualized service to those seeking personalized assistance with their pop-up needs. The site offers a pop-up “match-making” service that facilitates the entire process, from arranging key relationships to preparing pop-up strategies for clients. This is a great option for retailers who want to embrace the pop-up trend but aren’t sure where to start.


So while the world of pop-ups is not a new one, it has changed and is creating new opportunities for all from the start-up on a shoe string budget, to the big brand wanting an impactful product launch, to the e-commerce seller wanting to engage with their audience in a physical location.


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