Pop-up stores an exciting way to win customers

Articles
March 03, 2009

Pop-up stores an exciting way to win customers

Supermarkets eyeing more of the prepared-food business need to capture more than consumer confidence in food quality. What if food stores could capture the excitement of an unexpectedly creative meal people could take home, or set up retail merchandising to convey the romance of Valentine’s Day with simple, affordable treats, or create special dinners for students returning home during college break with laundry in tow and hunger for a special home-cooked meal? Then take these ideas a step further. Do them outside of the four walls of your stores. Rent mini-venues elsewhere in your trading areas for days, weeks or months at a time and dedicate them to these revolving themes. Build buzz through a viral communications network that gives interested people in your towns the heads-up on your next pop-up store. Remember as a youth dashing off to attend a concert when you learned one of your favorite bands was performing locally? That’s the spirit behind pop-up supermarket spinoffs. Only with communications more facile today, word spreads even quicker, and so could crowds in a mood to buy. Consider the prospect of D’Agostino renting space for a few days by the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink to sell barbecue chickens and accompaniments. Or Safeway setting up summer clambakes by beaches. Or Shaw’s making a statement with pop-up stands for many kinds of hot beverages at ski areas. These would be memorable, short-term and repeatable events that teach shoppers where they operate to come to their real stores for these food and beverage solutions.

Supermarkets eyeing more of the prepared-food business need to capture more than consumer confidence in food quality. What if food stores could capture the excitement of an unexpectedly creative meal people could take home, or set up retail merchandising to convey the romance of Valentine’s Day with simple, affordable treats, or create special dinners for students returning home during college break with laundry in tow and hunger for a special home-cooked meal?

Then take these ideas a step further. Do them outside of the four walls of your stores. Rent mini-venues elsewhere in your trading areas for days, weeks or months at a time and dedicate them to these revolving themes. Build buzz through a viral communications network that gives interested people in your towns the heads-up on your next pop-up store.

Remember as a youth dashing off to attend a concert when you learned one of your favorite bands was performing locally? That’s the spirit behind pop-up supermarket spinoffs. Only with communications more facile today, word spreads even quicker, and so could crowds in a mood to buy.

Consider the prospect of D’Agostino renting space for a few days by the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink to sell barbecue chickens and accompaniments. Or Safeway setting up summer clambakes by beaches. Or Shaw’s making a statement with pop-up stands for many kinds of hot beverages at ski areas.  These would be memorable, short-term and repeatable events that teach shoppers where they operate to come to their real stores for these food and beverage solutions.

Supermarkets that try pop-up stores would be borrowing a page from today’s restaurant playbook. The phenomenon of one-night-only restaurants has spread across Manhattan and Brooklyn to experiment with new cuisines and chefs, and expose their tastes and inventiveness to new patrons, often at reasonable prices. For consumers, pop-ups are a pleasant diversion that give them bragging rights the next day. They’re a change from the same old, and they can help rekindle good feelings at a time we need it most.

When Target opened four pop-up stores last fall, it intended to sell goods by 22 designers and soften the underbelly of Manhattan island for the discounter’s arrival with full-scale stores in 2009. Just as those four stores underscored the taste and values at Target, supermarkets could use inventive pop-ups to show off their food finesse and cultivate relationships with more consumers in their markets who probably hadn’t thought of them in this way before.