The shop in Berlin had all the features of a discount store as shown in this short film:
The concept has clearly evolved into a true "concept store" - with its merchandising codes, its "architecture". It has retained only the ephemeral temporality of the first "guerrilla store" and choice of locations:
I propose a typology of pop-up stores, showing how a brand can use pop-up stores as a powerful means of development:
- A method to strengthen rarity: This is the privileged option of luxury brands. For 10 years they have been losing their lustre by multiplying boutiques and expanding their customer base. They have lost the sense of rarity - which is one of the fundamentals of luxury (see my post of ... concerning luxury in Japan) - believing that only the price and enhancing their images would justify their "luxury" positioning. The pop-up stores are a way of recreating rarity: a temporary shop offering an ephemeral and exclusive collection. Louis Vuitton is the brand that has best understood this aspect: the Japanese pop-up store with 'Comme des Garcons' (that's right) is a perfect example of this strategy: Open in Tokyo from 4th September 2008 to mid-December, one could find there a series of 6 limited-edition bags.
- A means for the brand to make itself desired in a place where it was hitherto absent: This was the case of Comme des Garçons' "guerilla stores", it is the case of Target's "pop ups" called "Bullseye Bazaar". The retailer is absent from a number of large cities like New York and Chicago. Based on its 'chic & cheap' concept, it borrows the idea of rarity from the luxury market: designer products created by famous designers at discount prices, available but in limited series.
- To test a new retailing concept: This is what Procter & Gamble is trying to do with the "Look Fab Studio", an itinerant pop-up store in Canada. All the Procter and Gamble beauty products are grouped together (Pantene / Covergirl / Olay / Nice'neasy / Crest / Venus) in a spot where "professional stylists" provide advice and offer skin care, colour, "mini makeovers". All services are free and there are no products on sale. For the first time a global P & G Beauty offer can be found under one roof ... a precursor of future shops?
- A means to launch a new product: This is the most common case…and I think the most uninteresting. A brand organizes an event - and instead of proposing a press conference or a "people" event, sets up (in addition) a temporary store where consumers can discover the new range. That is what Gap did in San Francisco in April 2009 to launch its 1969 Premium Denim Jeans range: a pop-up store open for … 5 months. Or Glaceau, for 10 days in New York to launch "VitaminWater10" ...