While some of the UK’s favourite brands experienced a dip in footfall and an increase in online sales over the 2017 festive period, the death of the high street is a long way off. This is partly due to the habits of younger shoppers, whose interest in creating “experiences” has led to the resurgence of a classic retail concept – the pop up shop.
Scarlett Curtis, millennial columnist in Sunday Times Style, typifies it with this quote: “Shopping from brands you’ve only ever seen in Instagram, being able to touch them, feel them and swatch them almost feels like meeting a celebrity.”
A study by Mood Media found almost 80% of shoppers cited “the ability to touch, feel and try” as the number one reason for shopping in stores rather than online. This figure rises to almost 90% for Generation Z shoppers, who according to Curtis, “find novelty in the value of something others think of as normal” – in other words, traditional shopping.
Online retailers are also getting on board. The rise to prominence of British start up, Appear [Here] – billed as the ‘Airbnb of retail’ – has made hiring pop-up space simple and digital brands such as Google and Spotify have ventured into the physical retail space using its service.
Our research showed that the majority of younger shoppers are driven by the physical experience of brick and mortar stores. The importance of sensory stimulation cannot be underestimated. Retailers with uninspired, disengaging retail experiences will struggle in a crowded market that increasingly values stand out.
“Brands creating unique customer experiences driven by sensory stimulation – capturing sight, sound, touch and scent – are better placed to thrive in the High Street. The pop-up offers brands the opportunity to create a physical space that encapsulates the brand essence – and it’s a great way to test the water ahead of a permanent investment, although the ephemeral effect cannot be underestimated.”
Pop ups rose to prominence in the early 2000s, and have maintained a steady popularity since. Recent success stories include Cadbury, who ran a bespoke Crème Egg café on Old Street offering their original take on British classics such as toasties and egg and soldiers. The shop is set to return in 2018 by popular demand.
Further digital-only retailers embracing pop ups include beauty brand Birchbox, who hosted a three month pop-up in London’s Carnaby Street in November 2017, described by the brand as ‘mirroring the online shopping experience’. Amazon hosted a Black Friday pop up in 2017, letting shoppers try products, get advice from gifting and lifestyle experts and take part in themed workshops.
“In engaging with customers face-to- face, Cadbury’s, Birchbox and Amazon have demonstrated the importance of a physical space to build brand mystique and engage with shoppers beyond the stock package.
“As Scarlett Curtis and her millennial companions might say, we can expect pop-ups to be popping off in 2018.”
Mood Media offer experiential design and marketing solutions, helping brands connect with their customers by providing music, digital signage, scent, integrated audio visual, and interactive mobile marketing solutions that help to improve customer experience.