Retail Goes Pop!

When I first wrote about #Pop Up stores in 2009, I noted these temporary brick & mortar locations as responses to important market trends – widespread recession driven retail vacancies and the launch of unique fashion brands such as Gucci sneakers and Rachel Roy.

Nearly eight years later, as more shopping increasingly takes place online – at Amazon.com, Walmart.com or the virtual world of your favorite mall-based retailer – Pop Up stores are providing shoppers and brands with important opportunities to connect.

  • Pop Ups allows brands to create a unique shopping event for their customers, aligning the brand’s positioning with an IRL experience. And we know consumers are more likely to be interested in brands that provide an experience, not just the acquisition of “stuff”. When GOOP (Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand) opened a popup location for four weeks in Dallas, brand aficionados lined up around the block to experience the GOOP lifestyle the brand advocates in its online positioning.
  • Pop Ups can reinforce the customer’s connection through exclusivity. E-commerce is mass commerce – anyone with a credit card and an internet connection can shop online, even for the most luxurious products. But a popup Hermès launderette or Armani Beauté styling shop is available for just a lucky few Parisians, helping to solidify consumers’ alignment with the super-premium attributes of those brands.
  • A Pop Up shop can create opportunities for re-branding or re-positioning. Manufacturers can use these temporary retailers as a controlled environment for testing new products or service concepts. Amazon’s popup stores offerings have expanded from locations that focused a data-curated selection of books to outlets now highlighting the company’s devices such as the Kindle and Echo.These brand driven strategies are aligning with increased interest from commercial landlords in taking on temporary tenants. While the general economy has improved, property owners in cities like New York are facing rising retail vacancies. And malls across the US are suffering shuttered stores and declining foot traffic. The result is a greater willingness to consider (and even seek out) popup retail as a way to bring in some rental income.

Some thoughts for marketers:

  • Do you think this sales channel will increase in the future?
  • Are Pop Ups a way for brands to address the desire for “high-touch” among some consumers?

Make Black Friday Green With Sales!

Instigated by the frenzy of commercials and promotions, shoppers often wonder “am I getting the best deal?”  In a tongue-in-cheek campaign, appliance retailer hhgregg captured this anxiety as FOBO (Fear of Better Offers.)  Zimmerman, the agency behind the campaign, said the idea came from “research that found millennials currently experience feelings of fear that better options may exist elsewhere.”   hhgregg is positioned as the solution:


As we head into the peak shopping season, many consumers are likely to be feeling the effects of FOBO. And despite the positioning of Black Friday as the height of discounts, some reports are finding these “deals” are not deals at all, furthering shoppers’ angst.
Some apps and websites are seeking to help relieve shoppers of these fears. Flipp aggregates retailer flyers and lets consumers pinpoint the local retailer with the best price for items on their shopping list. They’ve even created a new commercial highlighting the app’s applicability for Black Friday gift shopping.


And for those who prefer to shop Cyber Monday? As noted in last week’s NYTimes, new apps like ShopSavvy allow users to compare prices for items in brick & mortar retailers versus Amazon and other online outlets “ all in search of the best deal.”
Some questions for marketers:
*How important is getting the best price for your prime customers?
*How transparent is pricing for your product or service? Is it easy for consumers to choose to buy your brand?

Competing for Eyeballs – Rio Olympics Edition

While the world’s elite athletes are competing for medals in Rio de Janeiro, a battle for viewers is being waged by cable and broadcast networks, social media and streaming platforms.
One of the key properties Comcast gained with its 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal was the rights to air the Olympics games in the US.  And now Comcast, through its Xfinity cable subsidiary is leveraging new platforms and apps to engage subscribers with Olympics content. As cord-cutting increases, Comcast is looking to upgrade current subscribers as well as entice new users with exclusive Olympics content available only through their partnership with the USOC.  NBCUniversal now has an exhaustive schedule of Olympics viewing across NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo and more through the X1 application.


In a bid to reach cord-cutters and mobile users, Google has dispatched YouTube stars such as Liza Koshy, Brodie Smith, Ben Brown, Caeli, Chloe Morello and Felipe Castanhari to livestream parts of the games and special events in host city Rio. Google is leveraging content from these Creators into search, maps and mobile applications to increase engagement. YouTube is also offering subscribers an IOC channel to increase visibility beyond US-centric users.

Not to be left out of the mobile/streaming wars, Facebook and Instagram have partnered with NBC to create a Social Media Command Center with access to NBC commentators and behind-the-scenes video.

Early reports indicate that live viewership for the Olympics is down versus the 2012 London Games.  Some are faulting excessive commercial breaks and ongoing concerns about Rio’s preparedness for the games.  But with so many options, are viewers choosing to engage with the 2016 Olympic Games in other ways rather than just live TV?

Some thoughts for marketers:
*Are the increased numbers of platforms and channels to choose for Olympic content possibly confusing or overwhelming viewers?
*Which brands are best leveraging the variety of platforms in order to connect with target consumers?
*What is your favorite way to watch the Olympics?

Owning the Experience

There is growing evidence that consumers are becoming less interested in conspicuous consumption.  From Millennials, who are (sometimes unwillingly) slow to launch their own independent households to Baby Boomers who are downsizing into smaller, more urban locations to the growing impact of Mari Kondo’s KonMari method of decluttering – living with less is an important new cultural trend.

Coupled with this trend away from consumption of “stuff” is the trend toward using our time and money for Experiences.  You can look to social media – when was the last time a friend shared an image of a new purchase, such as a car or house?  Yet our newsfeeds are full of pictures of exotic trips, restaurant visits, concerts and sporting events.

The new campaign from Groupon highlights this insight.  The TV ads compare the “Haves” and their mansions full of gaudy stuffy and the “Have-Dones” who are engaged in life through experiences like sky-diving, dining out, getting spa treatments or visiting a fun-park. In a press release for the campaign launch,  Vinayak Hegde, Groupon’s CMO highlighted that this new focus is based on research findings that experiences been scientifically proven to make consumers happier.

Two immediate takeaways from the new campaign:

  • The “Haves”, with their collections of gaudy stuff are cast as older and unsociable. “Have-Dones” by contrast are youthful and spirited.  Which portrayal is more aspirational is pretty obvious.
  • Experiences are shareable – participants are shown enjoying activities with a good friend, a spouse, children And evidence of the experience is shared with the larger group of friends and family – via selfies and social media.

The TV ads close with “If you’re going to own something, own the experience.”  Some thoughts for marketers

  • Are there ways to enhance the experiential qualities of your product/service?
  • How important is shareabilty for your consumer?