Pop-Up Your Marketing: How to Design Temporary Retail Displays that Attract Customers and Build Brand Affinity

2014 October Whitepaper

When pop-up retailing first burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, it was regarded as an effective way to generate buzz and short-term sales. Since then, pop-up retail shops are experiencing a “coming of age”—savvy marketers are realizing that their usefulness extends beyond a temporary splash. The advent of social media has amplified their temporary buzz to result in genuine brand affinity and the conversion of life-long customers.

With such potential in the pop-up retail proposition, it’s more important than ever for companies to understand how to effectively design pop-up retail stores and kiosks that attract customers, create positive and viral PR and build lasting brand affinity.

Location, Location, Location

The well-known mantra of real estate agents everywhere is also the mantra of marketers creating their pop-up retail display: location, location, location!1 Choosing the right location depends on two factors: 1) finding pedestrian traffic and 2) finding the right pedestrian traffic.

First, pop-up retail displays need to locate in a place with the maximum amount of pedestrian traffic. Some famous early examples in the field of pop-up marketing were temporary stores located in New York City’s most heavily-trafficked areas. For example, in 2003, Target debuted Isaac Mizrahi’s women’s clothing line in a 1,500 square foot store located in always-busy Rockefeller Center.2 But even a booth in a convention hall in front of the right audience can prove a successful location.

The second consideration is more nuanced. Thoughtful marketers also need to consider locating near stores that attract customers similar to the retail pop-up’s target market. For example, many malls cluster high-end stores suited for mature customers in one wing, with stores that cater to teens located in another section. Naturally, it follows that a pop-up retail shop would want to consider the kinds of people attracted to its neighboring stores to ensure that this clientele mirrors the target market.

Keep It Simple to Get Noticed

It is not always true that the bigger, bolder, flashier and brighter the message, the better the marketing campaign. In fact, today’s industry leaders assert the reverse is true. As web advertising has evolved, so have the analytics enabling marketers to better understand user experience. Their findings? Less clutter results in better comprehension of the product and campaign.3

However, that does not mean marketers are off the hook from creating pop-up retail booths and kiosks that are eye-catching and get noticed. There are a myriad of competing messages in any mall or pedestrian square vying for a passersby’s attention, so some sort of attention-grabbing visual is still important. As with most things, the answer is balance.

One company that excels at finding this balance is Pepsi. For example, Image360 - Middle River, MD recently collaborated with PepsiCo. to create a 20’ x 20’ custom convention booth. The booth included a bar area, display cases, places for guests to rest their drinks and several TV’s. The final product was eye-catching, branded in Pepsi’s signature royal blue and red color scheme and—despite the requirement to include so many components—utilized a very simple design to ensure the space did not feel cluttered. Rather, the booth felt fresh, welcoming and current—very in line with Pepsi’s brand identity.

Amplify Your Message

No matter how compelling the visuals, no pop-up store will generate business on its own. Sales people are the critical bridge between the consumer and the product. Friendly, outgoing people often serve as brand ambassadors on hand to educate consumers about product features, demonstrate products, push promotions and enhance the connection a customer feels to the product.

But there is one type of brand ambassador that is even better than the traditional route of hiring a paid staff person: a loyal customer. And the very best way to put the power of the pop-up to work is incentivizing customers to mobilize their personal social networks.

Today’s customer is never without his or her mobile device, making m-commerce a critical component of all retail. Even temporary retailers are expected to offer multiple modes of engagement. The real money comes when pop-up retailers are able to translate an enthusiastic customer to a marketer. The key in making that leap requires incentivizing customers to plug sales and products to their social networks.

Here are some tips to help pop-up retailers make this happen:

1. Create clever hashtags for products and displays. Anything that reminds customers to extend their experience beyond what is happening in the kiosk is helpful. 

2. Build robust social media pages for the pop-up kiosk that are surprising and fun, encouraging other users to share this content. 

3. Selfies sell! Create photo-ops or cool displays that encourage self-portraits, which are often shared to the consumer’s network. 

4. Engage influencers. Heavily-followed social media gurus should be courted with special VIP opportunities. 

5. Hail the power of the “freebie.” Passersby receive the free item, and then notify their network to stop by before time or quantities run out. 

6. Timed promotions are also effective, as they give a deadline for people to act.4

Pop-up retailing has evolved from a way to generate temporary buzz to a key way to build long-term social media support and brand affinity. Effective pop-ups are mindful of selecting a strategic location, are able to strike the right balance between eye-catching yet very legible and transform their customers into brand ambassadors.

To download a .pdf of this case study please fill out the form to the right and a copy will be emailed to you.

Read More


  1. http://www.shopify.com/blog/11654877-why-you-should-open-a-pop-up-store-and-7-location-ideas-to-get-you-started
  2. http://www.streakwave.com/cradlepoint/CradlePoint_Pop_up_Store_White_Paper.pdf
  3. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33318/The-Quintessential-Qualities-of-Modern-Marketing-Design
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cassie-hughes/6-tips-for-making-your-po_b_4937744.html

Start the conversation.

A custom signage consultant will be in contact to work with you on your next signage solution.

 - Image360-Boca Raton - Custom Display - Pepsi  - image360-boca-raton-custom-tradeshow-pepsi  - image360-boca-raton-custom-tradeshow-pepsi