#SMWPOPUP

“How Social Media Powered The Pop-up”

For Social Media Week (September 24th – 28th in London), Eventbrite

As part of Social Media Week, EventbriteUK (@briteuk) hosted 60+ attendees at Engine to discuss why pop-ups use social media, how to market big new ideas and what growth really looks like in a world gone digital. We heard from a great panel composed of major London pop-up entrepreneurs:

Andrew Swain – social media consultant at Boxpark (@boxpark),

Alice Hodge – co-founder of The Art Of Dining (@artofdiningldn)

Max Bergius – founder & editor of Art Wednesday (@artwednesday)

Sam Michel – founder of Chinwag (@chinwag)

Daniel Young  – founder of Young and Foodish (@youngandfoodish)


For pop-ups, the problems with promotion and consumer traction are obvious: they are intrinsically ephemeral, underground, inconsistent, and often invisible to the naked eye (read: invite only). They are projects built from scratch by courageous and inventive individuals keen to bring something new into the world. Conversely, they’re often unable to afford the luxuries of promotion, mass-marketing, or any paid advertising whatsoever. We heard from the panel that proper (paid) promotion can actually damage reputations if the goal is to find an authentic and authentically engaged consumer base.

Enter Social Media.

“Everyone on Twitter Is Into Crochet”

The consensus in the room was that user/consumer/fan-generated content is the most valuable to both identifying and growing a dedicated base of customers. Rather than filling Facebook with every little announcement, or feeding Twitter with flippant information, success comes from re-posting Instagram photos, sharing positive consumer feedback and reinforcing messages of gratitude. While these strategies seem fairly obvious, we were given plenty of counter-examples where Pinterest had been used to mask commercial interests, verbose blogs fell on deaf ears and scattershot over-use of Facebook and Twitter isolated everyone.

As Daniel Young put it, “Everyone on Twitter is into crochet.” This doesn’t mean that any crochet business will de-facto succeed through Tweets alone, but rather that the challenge is to bring new and useful information and projects to the platform. Take the time to tell the right people about them, and then take them on a journey. Daniel found a collaborator in Edible Experiences, and they often share and support each-other’s content.

For Alice Hodge, the journey starts with ‘being real’, which is facilitated primarily through Twitter and Instagram. The accurate buzz word here is “oblique.” Tweeting about mis-steps and antics, coupled with Instagram photos of what happens behind-the-scenes can do a lot to bring humor, life and humanity to a new business. Andrew and most of the panel echoed the value of re-posting Instagram images and other user-generated content as a way to build a reputation directly through relationships, rather than ‘pitching’ anything at all.

Email = Workhorse

So how do you connect directly with your base to promote events, sell tickets, generate a buzz or announce a new feature? And how to do you measure retention vs. interest when social network stats are only as good as the last week’s activity?

For Max Bergius, email equivocates best. Because it is so direct, Art Wednesday sees the most monetization come from direct emails. MailChimp is the favorite tool for scheduling and building email campaigns (we use it at WAPU for our mailing-list and love it). As social networks grow larger daily, getting a signal through the noise can be quite the challenge. But email – set apart from networks and inherently personal – is a great way to find and keep your ‘sticky’ supporters.

Quality, not G+

Of the many platforms supported and praised for their ability to help connect and network users, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck were praised as tools to manage and schedule social updates (they focus on Twitter and Facebook). Path, Highlight and Banjo were mentioned as good personal networking tools. Drupal and WordPress were the blogging favorites.

We would like to throw in Shhmooze as an up-and-comer which helps you find people from your networks at events hosted by Shhmooze, Eventbrite and MeetUp.

The consensus was that Google Plus and the complicated integration of Google Plus Local and Google Plus Groups makes it more of a headache than a tool. When resources are already stretched across development, outreach and service, convoluted software that changes frequently is the most likely to drop off.

“If corporates can get out of the way… we’ll have a great time”

The most poignant question of the session came at the end of the event, when Sam Michel had a chance to discuss the role of big brands amidst the pop-up phenomenon. The title quote is his, issued after explaining the potential and exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and brands to partner around offering large-scale, authentic experiences.  Brands can bring financial support and capability, where entrepreneurs bring authenticity and a true connection to consumers.

This is most likely to work if the brand is just barely visible. We imagine meaningful or quiet product-placements, rather than big noisy ad-campaigns.  Most brands now don’t seem to cop to the idea, so maybe they just need to be taught.  Connecting with true pop-up entrepreneurs is a great opportunity for brands to authentically connect with their consumers – as we see in The Art Of Dining’s new Tradicional project.

Many thanks to Katie McPhee and Eventbrite for facilitating this fascinating conversation. (And for not forcing everyone in attendance to wear big orange shirts.)

Watch the live stream

Event overview and speakers: http://eventbriteatsmwldn12.eventbrite.com

Host: http://www.theenginegroup.com

Welcome To The Future of Retail – Part Two

Examples of pop-up retail in the UK

1) Test marketing in Covent Garden, one of the UK’s most popular shopping destinations:

• Chanel: Launched a six-month boutique at the start of London 2012.

• Tom’s Shoes: US brand tests UK shop in Seven Dials.

• Private White VC: Manchester men’s brand opens second retail store.

2) Protecting/revitalising historic property:

• The Gin Garden showcases The National Trust’s Fenton House in Hampstead.

• The Midnight Apothecary highlights the Brunel Museum’s campaign to turn a historic vault from London’s Thames Tunnel into a concert hall.

3) Community economic development and social sustainability:

• StartUp Britain’s PopUp Britain is a scalable template for enabling local entrepreneurs.

4) Brick-and-mortar brand building:

• Independent watch company Uniform Wares moves from a featured spot at the Dezeen Watchstore shop to Uniform Wares brand shop for the London Design Festival.

• Corrections rehabilitation charity Fine Cell Work’s shop in Mayfair brings puts skilled-labour products into shopper’s hands.

 

Worldwide examples of pop-up retail

5) Marketing campaigns to deliver real-world, immersive consumer experiences:

• Bob Dylan ‘Tempest’ stores (London, Berlin, NYC, LA)

• Michael Chambon’s ‘Telegraph Avenue’ record shop (Oakland,   California)

• Mumford and Sons’ General Store (Sydney)

6) Small and large business alike achieve new levels of community and customer engagement:

• Odd Future x Colette (Paris)

• The Junkyard (Beirut)

• Puma Yard (London)

• Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop (Delhi)

7) In NYC, several campaigns are using pop-up shop concepts for social service delivery:

• Barbershop x Health centre in Harlem

• School registration centres

8) Pop-up hotels, “the most extreme example of the pop-up phenomenon” (Travel and Leisure), testing the boundaries of unique consumer experiences.

 AirBNB’s designer ‘Picks’

• Design Hotels Project: San Giorgio, Mykonos

• Nikki Beach and Target boutique hotels at the Toronto International Film Festival

Growing awareness of pop-up retail

Pop-up retail is receiving increasing amounts of press coverage as it moves into industry and mainstream consumer consciousness. Whilst major cities lead the way – like Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco – there’s activity from Ayers Rock, Australia to Zurich, Switzerland. Further, there is heavy interest from the travel industry as pop-up destinations are often hyperlocal experience.

• Rise of the Pop-Up Shop – Travel and Leisure (October 2012)

• Pop-up Shops Go MainstreamWall Street Journal  (September 2012)

• New York’s 8 Best Food Trucks – Zagat (August 2012)

• World’s Best Pop Up Restaurants – American Express: Departures (July/August 2012)

• 10 of the best London pop-upsBritish Airways High Life (July 2012)

What’s Next?

We Are Pop Up has sparked interest from a variety of sources: from independent proprietors to multinational brands, and from local councils to NGOs and national government. The question is no longer if pop-up retail will emerge as a significant force, but when it will reshape the global retail industry.

Based on both the drivers mentioned in State of UK Retail, as well as the growing body of Examples, pop-up retail is gathering steam. Current property models are broken and fail to sufficiently address the needs of the short-term retail category. The future will be very interesting.

 

“All journeys begin from identifying opportunities”

Read other parts of this series.

Welcome To The Future Of Retail – Part One

The State of UK Retail

We have been reading a lot of stories about the current face of the UK retail market. Amidst speculation and concerns about the changing character of post-recession high streets, data published recently has helped disambiguate the situation. Last week, The Local Data Company’s report “Too Many Shops” identified the following shifts in the UK retail sector:

• A decade of lost growth as consumer spending is back to 2002 levels.

• 13% of retail transactions in the UK occur online.  By the late 2010s, 50% of  transactions are expected to occur on mobile devices and VISA’s online platform.

• High Street footfall is down 5% nationally.

Clearly consumer spending is down and already moving from offline to online spending. In the long-term, the proliferation and popularity of mobile devices brings with it the desire to transact in every way possible on the platform. In the short-term, brick-and-mortar retailers have been put under  pressure from online purchasing. Without any model currently in place to mitigate this shift, the type of spending correlates directly to where it is spent. For the moment, online sales does mean sales made outside of physical shop space.

• 1,500 shops per year closed between 2000 – 2009.

• 5,000 shops closed each year in 2010 and 20011.

• 1 in 7 UK shops has fallen vacant.

This sharp rise in shop closures is most commonly attributed to both decreased footfall (and related spending), and consumer consolidation (as more people go to fewer shops). Traditional department stores are being overlooked in favor of independent intermediaries and innovative brand stores. Primary examples like the Apple Store and Niketown have found renewed success through well-crafted  and heavily designed shops. We see the most success in retail shops that are highly engineered  and driven by experiential retail concepts.

• 52% of retail leases expire between now and 2015.

• 6.6 million square feet of new space has been added from 2005 – 2012.

• There are currently 50,000 vacant shops in the UK.

As more space opens up on the property market, consumer patterns change. But shops have trouble changing with them. Long-term leases mean that most shops cannot flex to match the flux. With so little room for competition, pricing adaptation, and innovative strategy, we can expect that retailer mobility will also be on the rise. With half of long-term leases expiring soon there is a good chance that the markets going to be on the move. (Additional information on UK and European retail shifts are available from Matthew Hopkinson’s presentation Multichannel Stat Attack from the Mobile Retail Summit 2012).

Pop-up shops are part of the solution”, said Simon Danczuk MP.

New consumer expectations are driving the rise of short-term “pop-up” retail in the UK and internationally. Made clear by high-fashion and Big Brand shops, consumers desire to associate themselves with products and brands in a more meaningful and creative way. The “pop-up” model facilitates innovative, specialized and (most of all) personalized shopping experiences for a new generation of shoppers.

For retailers, running a pop-up de-risks many common brick-and-mortar challenges. Without the pressure of a long-term lease and deep financial investment, they can offer a wider variety of stock, test prices and iterate designs faster.  (Another way to say it is that short-term engagements allow the market to correctly price retail property, but that is a conversation for another time.