“Pop-up,” or temporary stores, are there to just generate market buzz for a new product or a new line, right? Well, Kevin Appelbaum, managing partner for consulting firm Hawk Hill Advisors believes they have another, equally valuable, use.
“I would describe their historical uses as promotion,” says Appelbaum. “Our view is that there is much more you can do with the pop-up store concept, such as getting information from the consumer.” Generally, pop-ups have short leases that run for weeks or months, after which the stores quickly disappear.
Hawk Hill however is currently working with several unnamed clients on rolling out six pop-ups across the country for the purpose of market research, not promotion. Appelbaum says recent pop-ups have given his clients a rare opportunity to directly communicate with their end-users. “We and our clients have found it extremely valuable because for the first time they can clearly understand a product's consumer appeal, their willingness to pay for it, and what causes a consumer to purchase or not purchase a product,” says Appelbaum.
There's nothing new in using pop-ups to generate market buzz for a new product or line in retail. Mainstream retailers like Target, JCPenney and Build-a-Bear have all used the concept as promotional tools.
Recently, JCPenney opened a pop-up in Manhattan to promote its home furnishings line designed by Chris Madden. Build-a-Bear has used pop-ups at Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia allowing fans to create a bear of the baseball team's mascot, the Philly Phanatic. The company has announced plans to offer other pop-ups at ballparks in Cincinnati and Cleveland.