Mobile device startup OnePlus launched the OnePlus X – the follow-up to their self-proclaimed ‘Flagship Killer’ the OnePlus 2 – in the UK earlier this month to queues around the block and critical acclaim. But how has the brand powered from zero to a waiting list of millions in little over 18 months, and what can be learned from their global launch campaign? We Are Pop Up caught up with brand OnePlus and space The Dandy Lab to find out more about their UK collaboration.
The beginning of November saw the highly anticipated UK launch of the OnePlus X with a pop-up store at The Dandy Lab in Spitalfields. After the resounding success of the French edition of the OnePlus pop-up tour at Colette in Paris, the hype was equally tangible in London as queues started to form long before the doors opened at The Dandy Lab. For one night only, the pop up provided a unique opportunity for customers to purchase their handsets without the need for one of the OnePlus infamous online invites.
With a queue stretching the length of Spitalfields Market, this level of buzz and exclusivity has become synonymous with the creators of the low-cost rival to the iPhone. Indeed the OnePlus One sold 1 million units between April and December 2014 when the company was less than a year old. In this age of easily-fuelled social media hysteria, exclusive, time-bound retail opportunities such as this hold the power to provide a startup with a 1.6 million pre-reservation list a mere 18 months after launching.
The pace is astounding when you think about what’s possible today. Apple was founded on 1st April 1976. OnePlus on 16th December 2013. In less than two years OnePlus has achieved what Apple has strived for in 40 with staggering global demand; queues around the block; customers flying in from different countries to access 1-hour pop-up sales. In August the OnePlus 2 sold out of 30,000 units in 64 seconds in a surprise online sale.
Now that OnePlus has reached such success with their coveted e-commerce business, the brand wants to evolve their approach to become more than purely online sales. In an exclusive interview with We Are Pop Up, European Communications Manager Eric Zarshenas explains that For the OnePlus X they have partnered with fashion boutiques in key cities around the world so that fans can touch and experience the phone before they buy it – “people can look at pictures, watch a YouTube video, or read reviews, but nothing is the same as actually holding the phone.”
“We are always looking for ways of getting our devices in people’s hands, so that they can truly experience our build quality.”
Eric Zarshenas, OnePlus European Communications Manager
This widespread movement of e-commerce brands from online presence to bricks and mortar appearances comes as retail space increasingly becomes thought of as not just a ‘shop’, but a real world manifestation of social media. Just this week, founder of shoe company Toms, Blake Mycoskie, told the New York Times that he was over the word “store”. Instead, Toms ‘Outposts’ offer seating, free Wi-Fi and events like morning yoga classes and movie nights, creating a “lifestyle for the brand”. This reimagining of the retail experience was implemented at the OnePlus X London pop-up at The Dandy Lab – bringing people together in the real world for what was before a purely online experience.
Julija Bainiaksina, co-founder of The Dandy Lab which hosted the OnePlus X London launch, tells us that people are now coming to shops like theirs to not only purchase products but also participate in events. “Here at The Dandy Lab we believe that this is the way forward, it’s time for a shop to become a social hub for brands and customers. The shop is effectively a physical social media space where we can create exciting experiences for our customers.” That’s why in-store they also offer an event space where they host different events and activities including a recent London Terrariums workshop and British wine tasting sessions. “This helps to create better relationships with the customers and encourage loyalty,” adds Bainiaksina.
Zarshenas adds that “over the last 10 years the traditional retail industry has been disrupted by growing online shopping trends and social media. Brick and mortar shops are no longer just sales platforms. They have become media channels that act as showrooms and experience centres where customers can see and touch products, and then buy anytime, anywhere online.”
Images by Justine Trickett.