As the world is changing towards an ever more globalized world where information is flowing freely half across the globe and businesses and industries continuously being digitalized – the pop-up phenomenon might in fact seem to defy these inevitable trends.
Why? Let me first give a brief introduction to the pop-up phenomenon before we explore this topic any further.
A pop-up store is defined as a store which is opened for only a limited time on a temporary location, usually in a place with dense foot traffic such as city centres. Now, a pop-up store can be opened for a number of reasons; two of the most common reasons being marketing purposes in order to raise either brand- or product awareness or with the goal to temporarily increase sales. The pop-up phenomenon is however not only limited to traditional retail stores but also includes showrooms, special events and even restaurants.
The organizations who utilizes the pop-up phenomenon ranges all the way from the German budget supermarket Lidl, opening a temporary restaurant with the objective to showcase the quality of the food despite its’ price, to the Copenhagen based restaurant noma, awarded best restaurant in the world four times, which opened a temporary restaurant in Tokyo. Individual celebrities like Jay Z, Drake and Kylie Jenner have also opened pop-up shops in order to promote their products and I will of course not fail to mention the big brands such as Samsung, H&M and L’oréal which all have opened and will certainly open new pop-up stores in the future.
So, is the pop-up phenomenon really challenging the ongoing trends of globalization and digitalization?
Let’s start to look at who actually has access to a newly opened pop-up event. By opening a temporary store, showroom or restaurant, not seldom comprised of limited versions of products, exhibition, deals or dishes, only people in the immediate vicinity of the geographical area will have access to these limited contents. The unavailability of these contents is certainly not in alignment with the trends of globalization. Furthermore, a physical pop-up event can of course only be accessed by physically being on location which is one of the very items digitalization tries to diminish; for instance not having to leave your house thanks to e-commerce or food delivery services such as UberEATS. But is the pop-up phenomenon really actually challenging the established trends of globalizations and digitalization?
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” Henry Ford once famously said. When the era of mass production was in its’ infancy that statement was regarded as a joke and the consumers accepted the shortcomings of standardized products in favour for the efficiency and precision of mass production. In our post-fordism era we as consumers have since long been tired of buying only standardized products and demand a wide variety and models of the same product and sometimes even custom options. The introduction and the trend of highly standardized products was with other words first welcomed as a substitute to the hand made goods from the local craftsman but in time generated the consumer demand of a wider product range. Still standardized products exist to a certain degree today, side by side with more niche options. Same goes for our case with the pop-up phenomenon. Availability of all kind of products and services thanks to globalization is of course something we consumers enjoy, but generates the consumer need and demand of a sense of exclusivity. The convenience of ordering our favourite food from the local restaurant in the comfort of our sofa as well as receiving targeted, but generically written ads, is thanks to digitalization. This in turn however, generates the consumer need and demand of platforms where personalized communication as well as human interaction is possible. The popup-phenomenon is something that fulfils these two consumer demands, both at the same time. But does it challenge the globalization and digitalization trends?
Probably not, only complementing it.