Pop-up retailing objectives and activities: A retrospective commentary

Based on published research and practitioner perspectives, this academic article considers the development of pop-up retailing. It identifies and discusses two key aspects of pop-up retailing – the temporal and experiential qualities. The paper also considers the strategic and spatial implications of pop-up retailing, as well as the future of this retailing concept.

Date added 12 October 2021
Last updated 12 October 2021

Temporary activity has been identified as a means through which to address the challenge of vacant spaces, and create a sense of vibrancy on the high street, enabling businesses to potentially experiment at a lower risk than with fixed premises. Based on existing studies and practitioner perspectives, this academic article considers the development and future of pop-up retailing – defined by the authors as 'an ephemeral, retail orientated setting that can facilitate direct experientially orientated interaction between customers and brands for a limited period’.

The paper first identifies and discusses two key aspects of this retailing concept identified by practitioners. The first- temporal - focuses on the temporary nature of this retailing format, which helps to stimulate a sense of urgency - or 'buzz' - in consumers, which can, in turn, generate purchases or other brand activity. The second key feature- experiential - emphasises how pop-up retailers can create a sense of experience for consumers, and are important settings for communicating about a brand. It is also considered an important way for online retailers to engage consumers in an offline setting.

Second, the article considers the strategic implications of pop-up retailing, with a distinction made between sales-motivated strategies, whereby financially-orientated metrics are important, and marketing-motivated strategies, which instead focus on things like brand awareness and creating memorable experiences for consumers. Spatial implications were also identified, whereby pop-up retailing was seen by practitioners as a cost-effective means of increasing regional coverage, with hybrid offline/online brand settings commonplace. Concerns are also expressed by practitioners about whether the concept is becoming over-used, which could potentially damage pop-up retailing’s effectiveness in the longer term.

The paper concludes by suggesting the things we still need to find out about pop-up retailing, including understanding how it interacts with other more permanent retailing fixtures and activities, and how to operationalise these networks for strategic advantage; the broader context in which pop-up retailing takes place, such as policy frameworks and place stakeholder perceptions; and how to measure the effectiveness of pop-retailing.

To read the Taylor and Francis published version of the paper, please see here.