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  • Writer's pictureiD Agency

The Top 5 Pop Up Trends for 2021

We are seeing a vast number of brands create intelligent and innovative pop up experiences worldwide – leaving behind techniques of the past and creatively looking toward tomorrow!

Now, it’s no big secret that pop ups have become a favoured marketing technique in recent years; taking the retail sector by storm. It’s also not difficult to understand why this is. A pop up strategy provides consumers with an immersive and contemporary experience that is unlike any traditional shopping venture.

However, with this widespread notoriety, competition and consumer expectations have substantially risen - meaning that every brand must be strategic in the planning and construction of their pop up in order to succeed.

So, here are the top 5 pop up industry trends to keep an eye on to ensure your pop up experience can stay ahead of the competition in 2021!

1. Upside-down Retail 

The name might seem confusing, but the facts aren’t.

The ways in which we shop are evolving and, unsurprisingly, the way in which we present a shopping experience must evolve in turn. 

A report compiled by Westfield predicts that by 2025, more store space will be dedicated to experiences rather than products - prompting an immense period of change for many major brands. In short, the retail industry is turning upside down.

In turn, consumer expectation surrounding the pop up industry is also set to evolve. 2021 will see more brands pursuing increasingly creative pop ups, supplying the growing demand for escapist experiences. These will skilfully blend new and imaginative engagement ideas whilst heroing the brand and product.

This isn’t difficult to comprehend as in prior years numerous brands have found success in offering a one-of-a-kind experience, rather than the simple distribution of a product. Cornetto, for example, brilliantly interacted with their consumer base through challenging traditional cinema expectations with ‘Beyond the Screen’. Within this period of engagement, the brand additionally distributed ‘Tear and Share’ samples – engaging their target audience in a bespoke and unexpected fashion!

2. Pop-in Shops

As a result of the drive towards upside-down retail, major retailers are now on the lookout for ways in which they can create fresh and exciting experiences that continually attract consumers to their stores. To do so, they must provide something that is bespoke to their brand and adds value to the consumer’s in-store shopping experience.

We, therefore, expect to see a dramatic rise in ‘pop-in’ pop ups. A pop-in is where a pop up experience activates within an existing store to provide the brand with a flexible and cost-effective method of creating contemporary experiences for its consumers. This could be organised by the brand itself, or by partnering with other complementary brands.

If you’re in need of inspiration then check out the Pop-in@Nordstrom initiative! Within this scheme, Nordstrom partners with various brands to create bespoke pop-in experiences that consumers cannot forget. Not only does this establish a sense of complete exclusivity, but it also brilliantly utilises consumer desire for the unexpected. Currently, the brand has partnered with Eileen Fisher but holds the promise of a fresh collaboration!

3. Ticketed Pop up Experiences

The presence of pop ups, and the popularity surrounding them, is continually growing. Brands are no longer shying away from the unfamiliar and are becoming increasingly confident within their own pop up innovations. Consequently, we have started to see brands challenge the status quo and re-organise their marketing strategies so that they embrace ticketed brand experiences.

This move toward paid experiences is not misinformed either. Research conducted in the US found that in 2018, 4 out of 10 brands had charged admission for their branded events or experiences. This resulted in 33% of consumers opting to pay for branded experiences within the year.

Sephora, as a brand that leads from the front, has spearheaded this trend with the introduction of the ‘Sephoria’s House of Beauty Festival’ which has since become an annual event. The attendees are invited to immerse themselves into a completely transformed environment that celebrates all things beauty. This involved Instagram Museum Moments, exclusive demonstrations and masterclasses, entertainment and more – all led by figureheads of the beauty industry. 2019 saw a massive turnout of almost 5,000 tickets sold demonstrating the immense potential for paid-for pop up experiences!

Subsequently, 2021 will mark a tipping-point for ticketed pop up experiences. Brands will look to deliver tailored experiences that leverage occasions and need states to generate profitable revenue streams.    

4. The S Word 

In recent years, the world has turned its attention to one astronomical issue; sustainability.

With continuous reports of the climate crisis, it’s impossible to not consider how our individual actions impact the world around us. Resultingly, a huge proportion of the public are looking for ways to minimise the damage they leave behind – and the way in which they shop is a huge element of this!

To explore this further, a Nielsen study found that 81% of global respondents felt strongly that companies should actively help improve the environment. So, large brands are having to re-assess how they source and manufacture their products; as well as how they advertise them!

A brilliant example as to how a brand has considered and tackled issues of sustainability is through the PepsiMax NFL activation. With NFL’s growing popularity in the UK, PepsiMax had a brilliant stage to set a precedent of environmental responsibility, and that’s exactly what they did with their ‘Recycling Throwdown’.

To highlight the importance of recycling, the brand invited consumers to transform themselves into a quarter-back and throw their empty cans into an oversized recycling station made from recycled material. The catch, however: as they disposed of their cans they, in turn, voted for their favourite team and was in the running for a prize to go pitch-side. This was a tremendous way of engaging with their consumer base whilst promoting sustainability!

  1. Pop Ups That Last

The phrasing ‘long-term pop up’ can almost seem oxymoronic. But trust us, you need to know all about it.

With pop ups becoming more and more integral to many brands wider marketing strategies, pop ups are no longer contained to a two-day activation. Although previously pop ups have been used to solve a variety of brand challenges, such as testing a new location, their popularity has substantially surpassed this one purpose.

Instead, pop ups can now last for periods of 3 months, to 6 months, to 12 months and beyond. The online make-up retailer Glossier, for instance, opened a pop up store in London’s Floral Street with the intention of it closing after 2-months. Instead, due to overwhelming interest, the store is set to remain open until the end of this year and is said to be the brand’s most successful pop up to date!

We’ve also seen fantastic results within our own work when using this method. iD Agency designed, built and manage a new concept pop up store for the premium CBD brand Beleaf – owned by MPX International.

The Beleaf Store is located in London's trendy Soho area and provides a premium CBD retail experience as well as a unique platform to educate consumers around the growing, yet poorly understood CBD category.

The pop up industry is forever changing, and although this can be hugely exciting it can also be daunting. However, as long as brands and agencies continue to educate themselves on the current trends and interests of the public then every pop up stands a great chance of success this year!

iD are experts in end-to-end pop up retail. We manage all aspects of the process – from property search, lease management, creative and design, build and production, operations and logistics, to staffing solutions. If you are looking for a complete pop up solution, then please get in touch!


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