Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton was left red-faced after they were told to remove a pop-up shop located in Russia’s Red Square.
Famed for their monogrammed merchandise, Louis Vuitton erected a 9m x 30m suitcase in Moscow’s Red Square earlier this week. The structure was built to house a six-week exhibition for the 120th anniversary of the adjacent GUM department store.
Within hours, the brand was met with fierce protests from locals. The pop-up shop obscured the view of famous landmarks including St. Basil’s Cathedral and was called “a symbol of vulgarity” by some protesters.
This serves as an important lesson for any retailer looking to employ pop-ups as part of their retail marketing strategy. Here, we’re going to share five important lessons retailers can learn from this Louis Vuitton slip-up:
1. Location is everything
While Louis Vuitton clearly had the best intentions with this store, it didn’t quite work out as planned.
Due to the nature of the area and the surrounding landmark, the exhibition space has ended up being met with backlash.
The lesson for retailers here is to carefully consider all the possibilities and opportunities when planning a pop-up campaign. As well as logistical issues with some locations, retailers will need to be aware of any other reasons why a certain location could cause them problems later down the line.
2. Size matters
Bigger isn’t always better, especially when developing a pop-up shop – as Louis Vuitton discovered. Yes, the giant suitcase commanded attention, but often for the wrong reasons. While it needed to be big enough to house the GUM exhibition, it was perhaps a little too oversized.
Pop-ups need to grab attention and create urgency. Smaller, more compact spaces can often do this better than larger ones. A massive part of their appeal is that they are there one moment and gone the next. Again, a smaller space makes this achievable.
Retailers should carefully consider what the space is being used for, and chose a size that caters for this perfectly.
3. Calm the critics
There will always be occasions when outdoor retail events cause controversy. The challenge for retailers is to know the potential issues they face, and calm them before they escalate. Louis Vuitton seemingly failed to do this and ended up ruffling more than a few feathers.
4. Stay on brand
Shoppers and passers-by need to instantly recognise which retailer is responsible for the pop-up shop or event.
Louis Vuitton is famous for their monogrammed merchandise, thus meaning the suitcase was instantly associated with them. However, confusion may have arisen as the exhibition was actually for the neighbouring GUM department store. Customers won’t have spotted the link right away, and may have seen it as a blatant sales effort by Louis Vuitton.
The lesson for retailers here is to ensure any physical space they occupy is clearly branded – both inside and out.
5. Be proactive, not reactive
Perhaps the biggest challenge with this incident is the potentially bad PR for Louis Vuitton. While they have released statements regarding the construction, it has been seen by some as too little too late. The brand was simply reacting to protests.
The most important lesson then is for retailers and brands to be proactive.
If something seems wrong, make the appropriate changes right away and work to solve them before they become a real threat to success. This will not only help stop the project from failing, but it will also keep the reputation of the brand intact.
A pop-up shop is a great way to create a buzz around a product, reach out to a new market or simply challenge customer perceptions. By learning from this incident with Louis Vuitton, brands can ensure they don’t make similar mistakes from their pop-up shop activations.