Social Media & Pop Ups: The New Retail Landscape

As a brand communications business with a dedicated retail arm, we at BrandNew are constantly being pushed to think outside the box when it comes to creating retail solutions for our clients.
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With the world now moving at an incredible pace, what worked well yesterday may need some tweaking today.

So having created very successful pop up shops for a host of different clients from Virgin Media to Maybelline and the BBC, one might have thought that we immediately defaulted to suggesting pop up shops or temporary retail outlets when suggesting the best route forward for our clients. However one would be wrong … A pop up shop alone is now not enough to win the hearts and minds of the discerning public, it’s now only one important factor in the solution.

So let's back up a minute and consider how the public shops. In days gone by, you’d see a TV ad and become aware of a brand. Then, after you became familiar with the name, you might consider wanting to buy it. Next, you bought it. Then, you might decide if you actually liked it. Finally, you identified yourself with that brand: “I’m a L’Oreal gal”/“I’m a Budweiser guy”.

Well today that is not the case, as we are subjected to brands via virtually every touch point; TV, magazines, the worldwide web, billboards... the list goes on. Everyone it seems is trying to sell you something and so now more than ever the art of retail is about creating a passion base of loyal fans who live, breath and eat your brand. And the best way to influence this? Via a real experience accessible on the High Street and via the integration of social media.

Well that’s obvious, I hear you say. Everyone uses Facebook nowadays - what’s so innovative about that?

Well let me back up even further. Try to imagine this scenario for a fictional brand launch, which will become reality in the very near future for all brands considering a direct to consumer proposition.

A brand has a product. It could be a movie, a TV programme, a cartoon, a video game or even an app, and it’s considering a new retail merchandise range but they don’t have a direct route to market and no way of trialling product. They want to have a physical shop and an e-commerce proposition but like all of us today they are risk averse and don’t want to waste money on endless research.

They need to show a fast return to their investors and, more importantly, they want to create something lasting which their fanbase will love. Yesterday, we would have suggested a pop up shop backed up by an outdoor media campaign and maybe a microsite as a great way of getting a new product range infront of your target audience. Then researching their reaction at point of purchase prior to a wider rollout. It worked great for us with Maybelline so, why not…?

Well our post-campaign research suggested that we could have done even better and that outdoor media for instance didn’t have the desired effect. In fact, word of mouth worked much better as a way of driving people to our store.

So today, the first thing we would recommend to our fictional client rather than the traditional pre-market research would be to create a new Facebook and Twitter site dedicated to an exclusive new range of products. This site would be promoted heavily to the brand's existing Facebook community and we would ask people to vote on their favourite products and then only manufacture these products with the most ‘likes’. This approach would allow us to create a new and exclusive retail range, which we know the public is going to love before it goes to market.

Social media has done its job of pre-determining the correct retail range, ensuring that the chosen retail solution we then create is going to be a sure fire winner when it goes live. Products, which have been created by the fans, are available at discounted prices simply by liking the product going forward.

This new way of thinking allows us to interact with a passion base about products they love and want to buy.
In our view, social media + temporary retail is a fantastic new way to work and is an approach that every consumer products division should grab with both hands.

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