Pop-Up Experiences: Temporary Brand Immersions


One day, it’s an empty space. The next, it’s a beehive of activity. Then just a week or two or a month or two later, it’s gone. It’s called a pop-up experience, and it’s a growing form of alternative media. Pop-Ups are a way for brands to have a direct, immediate impact in locations that matter most to consumers.

The stumbling economy, with its twin challenges of tightening credit and frugal consumers, continues to squeeze consumer marketers, and retail is no exception. Consumers cope with falling incomes and shrinking purchase power by scaling back, saving for big-ticket items and reducing overall consumption – resulting in continuous average monthly sales declines in first half of the year. As weaker retailers fail and stronger retailers cut back, empty storefronts are becoming an increasingly common sight across the country.

At the same time, savvy marketers realize that the brands that will survive and indeed, thrive in the long term are those that remain relevant and visible to customers in good times and bad. Retail settings provide a much-needed forum for consumers to interact with their favorite brands, experience products and services, communicate needs and stay abreast of the latest trends.

An emerging model, the pop-up experience, addresses both of these fundamental challenges – the slow economy and the need to remain engaged with consumers’ worlds and smaller budgets. Pop-Ups are temporary brand immersions where retail, product and/or service experiences deployed in shopping malls, on urban streets or free-standing spaces of heavily trafficked venues such as college campuses, parking lots or street corners where everyday life plays out for consumers. Often found in the form of product showrooms, branded lounges, fully functional retail spaces or other “surprise and delight” environments, these experiences have a tendency to “pop up” unannounced, quickly draw in crowds, and then disappear or morph into something else. Their temporary, and often mobile nature results in drastically lower costs compared to a permanent retail location, while the tangible experience in the everyday world where consumers live, work and play allows brands to engage, stay connected with and/or delight consumer who are increasingly used to massclusivity and planned spontaneity. “Pop-Ups are an innovative solution to an age-old problem – maintaining a compelling consumer experience that engages brands most important to customers while simultaneously making better use of shrinking budgets,” says Jane Hawley, senior VP at global event marketing agency, Sparks.

When asked about the frequency of temporary brand immersions in the overall event marketing mix, Event Marketer magazine editor and publisher Dan Hanover states, “Pop-Ups remain a powerful weapon in the marketing arsenal. More and more brands use them to boost buzz, connect with customers and increase sales.” They are increasingly relevant and buzz-worthy.

Check out activations and sponsorships designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.