It’s pop-up time

Brick-n-mortar going ubiquitous to lure millennial consumers

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It’s pop-up time


In this digital economy, the importance of traditional brick-n-mortar retail is a given. There's no way a brand can scale-up and become sustainable in the long run unless it wisely invests in physical formats. But with high infrastructure, real estate costs and rentals, pop-up stores are coming to the rescue of new-age brands.

Gone are the days when multistory showrooms spanning thousands of square feet held sway. Today's brands and their millennial consumers, who are on the lookout for intuitive experiences need pop-ups to cater to their discerning needs. And pop-ups have suddenly assumed increased significance in the retail market. Industry estimates suggest pop-up retail worldwide fetches over $10 billion in annual sales. What's astonishing is that alongside upcoming brands, global brands such as Diesel, established retailers such as Target and Nordstrom and Uber, luxury brands such as Prada and Hermes are all taking the pop-up route.

“That's because pop-ups enhance the brand connect, allow the brand to provide customised set of experiences to its customers, and promote customer loyalty. Pop-ups are less about stocking on inventory and more about communicating the brand values and capturing insights on customer behaviour. Being transient makes them more attractive and compelling and makes people explore their offerings and experiences,” say experts.


  • Pop-ups enhance the brand connect and promote customer loyalty
  • Industrial estimates suggest that pop-up retail worldwide fetches over $10 billion in annual sales 

At one of Nike's pop-ups in the USA, customers could play basketball at the transient store, interact with shoe designers and with basketball legend Kobe Bryant and be guided by them in customising a unique pair of shoes. Nando's had held a pop-up where customers could enjoy a meal while feasting their eyes on a pop-up art gallery, buy art and also create unique pieces of art and craft. Thus, pop-ups attract high footfalls.

“For a brand like ours, it provides a platform to educate our audience about the products and build trust. Consumers have the opportunity to touch and feel the product which then encourages them to invest in it. Pop-up stores also increase our digital reach as the customers start following us on social media and return to our website to pick our new products,” says Chirag Tekchandaney, co-founder and director, B Label by Boheco. B Label is into sustainable fashion using hemp.

Today, most new brands start out by being online. But since an offline presence is equally important, pop-ups come to their rescue. ''Pop-ups are a boon for brands like us that are primarily online and are new to the market. Pop-ups allow us to test the water before committing on a traditional setup. Fleeting stores provide sale boost, especially in lean periods, and they are better than traditional stores in terms of keeping overheads to the bare minimum,'' says Neha Lakhani, co-founder of luxury mithai brand ARQ Mithai. 

Experts say the cost of putting a fleeting pop-up store is about 80% less than investing in a traditional retail outlet.

Tanuj Dang, co-founder and director, Fiorella-The Flower Boutique says, “pop-ups have proven to be highly beneficial in terms of customer loyalty as it allows for strong engagement with customers in real-time. “Currently, we have a pop-up in Kolkata which is boosting sales. We are looking for more pop-up opportunities as we don't really plan on large format outlets.''

Another upcoming brand, The Moms Co, which provides toxin-free new-born and mother care products, has been setting up kiosks within hospital premises. ''Today we have 10 kiosks within premium hospitals which are staffed with mom counsellors. We are looking to expand to 20 kiosks this year,'' says the founder and CEO, Malika Sadani. 

Lakhani says ARQ Mithai is adopting the pop-up strategy for business expansion in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. “Given the aesthetic of our brand which is luxury, it is important to identify the right venue which is in sync with our brand ethos and suitable to our target audience.”

B Label meanwhile has focused at two kinds of transient brick-n-mortar establishments which include flea markets and curated concept stores that house unique brands. “We are present at nine stores across India and have participated in 15-20 pop-ups in the last two years,” says Tekchandaney.

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