image of espresso coffee on a yellow background titled retail espresso volume 5

Having watched everything on Netflix twice, finished reading the dictionary and started speaking to our houseplants on a daily basis, it’s fair to say that human beings are well and truly bored.

With that boredom comes a craving for real-life experiences – especially considering that festivals, vacations and everything else that’s even remotely fun has been cancelled so far this year.

That widespread craving combined with the smaller-than-usual appetite for brands to invest in long-term, permanent retail projects has created a huge opportunity for one of retail’s most exciting channels: pop-up.

Bottega Veneta’s invisible pop-up in Shanghai, made entirely of mirrors

Designed as a statement piece of art as much as a retail project, Bottega Veneta launched an ‘invisible’ pop-up in Shanghai earlier this month made entirely of mirrors.

NB: We wonder how many people have walked into it while looking down at their phones.

Gentle Monster have also unveiled a pop-up ‘parking lot’ in collaboration with artist Kris Wu, in which customers can roller skate around a futuristic car art-piece, while also being given access to exclusive products.

‘Bookings-only’ experiences are also on the rise – not solely for the feeling of exclusivity they evoke, but also for the purpose of crowd control and hygiene.

Giorgio Armani just launched a Jungle-themed, bookable, pop-up boutique experience in New York; not only are private appointments available, but those still tentative about hitting the shops can also visit virtually.

Semi-permanent projects will also be used for more tactical purposes.

During the 2008 recession, consumers bought less, creating a build up of stock for most brands and retailers. This led many to slash prices and open outlets to turn a much needed profit, while also shifting old stock – a trend that’s still around today.

“We’ve conditioned consumers to wait for the deal.”
– Rod Sides, Vice Chairman for Retail and Distribution, Deloitte

Brands and retailers will likely go down a similar path in 2020 and beyond, with many turning to semi-permanent outlets to sell off old stock; luxury retailer Harrods has already taken the uncharacteristic step to achieve just that.

The Harrods Outlet, setup to sell off old stock at discount prices.

Finally, there’s a huge case for using pop-up simply to give people the experiences they’ve been missing out on this year.

Consumers have had tiny amounts of stimulation so far this year and are craving cool experiences that wow their senses.

Whether that’s an all-out digital experience like our work for Puma on 5th Avenue, or even something a little more analogue, like the floating cinema that was launched in Paris last weekend

Paris’ floating cinema, a creative way to social distance.

Appetite to invest in permanent retail projects with long-term leases has naturally shrunk somewhat this year.

In our latest report – The Pop-Up Opportunity – we explore how shifts in the world’s social landscape have created a huge opportunity for pop-up and semi-permanent projects to achieve brand growth.

Click the banner below to download the report now.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our thinking

6 min read

Exterior of Harry's bar