Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pop-Up Shops as a Marketing Tool for Retailers

Pop-Up Shops are short-term, temporary retail events that are “here today, gone tomorrow”. It is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. “The pop-up retail phenomenon, once known as flash retailing, has grown in recent years” say experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm. Retail space for pop-up shops is rented for a fraction of the cost of a long-term space and is a cost-efficient way for a retailer to increase its brand awareness and make a profit.

Pop-ups are changing how commercial property owners are leasing their spaces; how big brands are launching new products and how online retailers are marketing the merchandise they sell online 1. Inquisitive customers enjoy pop-ups because there they can learn more about product they are buying – e.g. where, how and by whom the products were made. Online customers can enjoy the shopping experience by visiting Pop-Up shops of online retailers. It offers a physical space to touch, smell and try-out products that they’d searched online.

What are Pop-Up shops?

My first memory of a Pop-up shop was as a little boy at a school bazaar. The local fish-and-chips fast-food retailer has setup a stall, with the necessary fryers and other equipment from his store at the school. The sounds and smells that were coming from his pop-up stall will always stay with me. However, more formally:  A distinguishing feature of pop-up retail is its temporary nature, intentionally springing up, and disappearing quickly 2. Consequently Pop-up shops can further be described as follow:

  • The shops usually involve one retailer rather than a group of retailers, and are usually found in trade shows. The latest trend however, is that they are setup in unused open spaces, storefronts, or within existing stores.
  • They are a way for promoting selected products or brands in a temporary location and on a smaller scale than trade shows;
  • Pop-up shops may be open in only one location, and are designed to be open a few days to a year;
  • Customers are allowed to have unique, personalized interactions and experiences with brands at the shops; and
  • Pop-up shops employ brand representatives who have a lot of knowledge about the brand.

The benefits of Pop-up shops are according to Sriram Subramanian writing in ShoppinPal:

  • Low overhead costs – retailers can take advantage of prime retail space at the fraction of what it normally cost;
  • Lower risk – short term monthly leases, low initial expenses and flexibility in operations reduce the risk for retailers;
  • Higher brand awareness – people are interested in the sudden appearance of a store, especially if it offers something different;
  • Increase sales – by taking your store where your customers are and making it more convenient from them buying from you;
  • Extended reach for established retailers – reach into different locations and new market niches without having to establish new stores in those locations.

Let’s take a look how retailers may use pop-up shops strategically to their advantage.

 Bricks and Mortar retailers use Pop-Up Shops to stay competitive

The battle for Brick and Mortar retailers to survive against the virtual onslaught of their online counterparts has been discussed many times by this author (e.g. “Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes“). Hence some Bricks and Mortar retailers had to resort to Artificial Intelligence and using the Internet of Things to integrate digital technology to the physical stores.  However, resolute Bricks and Mortar retailers have found another innovative way to enhance the shopping experience of dwindling customers.

Pop-up shops that are strategically placed on shopping floors are appreciated by customers because of the positive hedonistic aspects thereof 2. Here they enjoy the excitement of the experience and the exposure to new, unique products. The Pop-up shop offers an interactive environment where the customers may communicate with knowledgeable brand representatives to gather information and share their perspectives.

A pop-up shop placed inside the retailer’s store can be used as a hub where customers can get more technical information about products and services. It gives them the opportunity to buy the retailer’s products online while they are in her shop.

Online Retailers use Pop-Up shops to let their customers feel, smell and taste their products

One of the big drawbacks that online retailers have is that their customers can’t feel, smell or taste their products online.  However, pop-up shops may help online retailers to bring their customers in touch with their products. Pop-up shops are ‘mobile’ and can relative easily be assembled in places where customer traffic is high.  They can be erected in shopping malls, at trade fairs etc.  Further, online retailers that sell niche products may choose to setup the pop-up shop close to their target customers.

The big online retailer has started to launch pop-up shops in multiple locations across the USA, according to Eugene Kim of the Business Insider. The pop-up shops reflect the company’s growing drive to reach consumers directly . does it through a variety of access points including retail storefronts, home delivery, and innovative devices.

Amazon’s Pop-up Shop


Although pop-up shops are not new to retail, they are nowadays used more strategically as a marketing tool. Therefore retailers should ask themselves what they want to achieve with pop-up shops. Are the additional costs and benefits worth the effort? Also, the roll-out of pop-up shops need to be preceded with a focused marketing strategy. Therefore, tell the people in the vicinity of your planned pop-up shop about it . They need to know what they can find there, and what the benefits are for them.

Finally, the rise of pop-up shops can partly be ascribed to the ongoing digital disruption taking place in the retail marketplace.


1 Baras, J. 2015. Popup Republic: How to Start Your Own Successful Pop-up Space, Shop, or Restaurant. John Wiley & Sons.

2 Kim, H., Fiore, A.M., Niehm, L.S. and Jeong, M. 2010. Psychographic characteristics affecting behavioral intentions towards pop-up retail. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 38(2):133-154.


Shopping Behavior of Women

Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, and their impact on the economy is growing every year. In fact, women call the shots in the vast majority of consumer spending decisions. In the USA, women buy or influence 80% of consumer purchases.1

The shopping behavior of women has been studied for ages now. Maybe Noa Shavit, a Behavioral Analyst depicts the typical shopping behavior of women by saying:  “Walk into a women’s clothing store and you’re bound to see a familiar sight: bored men sitting on any flat surface they can find, holding purses and shopping bags as their girlfriends/wives/daughters scour the store.” I found myself frustrated many times (mostly when I was younger) doing shopping with the girls. Luckily, nowadays, my shopping trips are restricted to the nearest convenience store. Women have evolved to behave in a different manner than men.

John Gray uses the metaphor in his book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”2 that men and women are from distinct planets. Gray also explains how men and women perceive each other: “Men mistakenly expect women to think, communicate, and react the way men do; women mistakenly expect men to feel, communicate, and respond the way women do.” We have forgotten that men and women are supposed to be different, says Gray.

Retailers should therefore recognize that the shopping behavior of women is different from that of men. But how is the shopping behavior of women different?

The shopping behavior of women

Noa Shavit suggests that the hunter-gatherer archetypes of men and women are often brought to life while shopping. She says: “Many women spend hours sifting through merchandise, looking for inspiration and taking care to ‘gather’ the items that suit them, while men tend to ‘hunt’ for the necessities, looking for what they need and exiting the premises as soon as they’ve found it.” Therefore, the shopping behavior of women tends to be more hedonic whilst that of men appears to be more utilitarian.

Charles Dennis and Andrew McCall3 characterize the shopping behavior of US women as follows:

  • Women like searching, comparing, finding the best value and taking pride in shopping as an activity;
  • They make 10 per cent better cost savings than men, making them the ‘better shoppers’;
  • They have a more positive attitude to shopping and see the activity as a satisfying experience in itself;
  • US women experience shopping as a leisure and social activity in which they are more involved and through which they can express love for their families and their social network; and
  • Women shopping together spend nearly twice as long in a shop as men shopping with women or other men.

The shopping behavior of women has been well debated and described in Bricks and Mortar shops, but what happens if they shop online?

Women shopping online

One way of describing how women shop online is to compare them with the online shopping behavior of men. Catalin Zorzini recently contrasted online shopping habits between women and men using different sources. Some interesting differences are tabled below:


The online shopping experience has to be social and comprehensive Want their shopping experience simple and straight-forward
Shop based on future needs Tend to purchase when need is immediate
More selective and more likely to buy a product that fits all their requirements Stop shopping when they find the first workable product
Buy gifts for others too More likely to spend money on themselves
Make impulse purchases Tend to think logically when making purchase decisions
More responsive to marketing emails, coupons and sales Less interested in discounts, deals, or out of season sales
More receptive to other people’s opinions Need detailed product descriptions, feature comparisons to other similar products, and customer reviews

Do you recognize some of your own online shopping behavior listed in the above table? The online shopping behavior of women is almost the same as if they are shopping in a department store.


Bricks and Clicks retailers should recognize that women do their shopping differently from men. “There is, after all, no known society in history where gender differences did not exist” says Dr. Noam Shpancer, professor of psychology at Otterbein University in Westerville Ohio. However, retailers who ignore the needs and wants of women will do it at their own peril.


1 Huddleston, P. 2011. Consumer behavior: women and shopping. Business Expert Press.

2 Gray, J., Adams, A., Jacobs, B.D. and Jacobs family, 1993. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Harper Audio.

3 Dennis, C. and McCall, A. 2005. The savannah hypothesis of shopping. Business Strategy Review, 16(3):12-16.