Let’s Talk O2O and See What Pops-Up

Like iPhones, Memes or Vlogging, O2O is no longer trendy, it is here to stay and will be a part of the digital strategy for many moons to come.  With Click & Pick now ‘been there, done that’ in world of wooing consumers in the merge of these worlds, online brands must take a more innovative stance towards O2O and driving traffic.  In addition, as brick and mortar stores continue to see a revenue decline with the rise of the oligopoly in the ecommerce world, brands are struggling with staleness.   Creating that high-school girlfriend excitement for consumers, in a long term marriage that needs an influx of some passion to get the juices flowing, investment conservative brands are ‘trying out’ the street facing pop-up model.

In 2012, Bonobos was one of the ground breakers of the Cyber Pop-up concept in NYC.  Designed for online sales, this limited time ‘phygitial’ space, allowed consumers to do what they strive in do at after-work happy hour, touch and feel the goods and move on, without the baggage to carry around.   Without inventory, long-term lease commitments or full human resourcing burdens, brands and small apparel and consumer goods start-ups, are essentially, trying before they are buying, themselves.  With iPads and samples, a 2 week pop-up store is a limited investment, sort of like taking the first date to the mid-range, but trendy, local eatery before splurging on the latest Michelin 3-star meal.


Get ‘em While They’re Young

According to the branding guru’s at super agency R/GA, “As digital-turned-physical retail locations continue to rise, traditional brick and mortar retailers are looking for new ways to lure younger shoppers.”

IndoChino debuted their ‘traveling tailor’ this way with pop-ups to assist young male business types, literally plucked off the streets, to take their measurements, which would be inputted into an iPad, resulting in a custom suit, delivered direct to door.  TechCrunch pointed out an interesting advantage to the innovative start-up strategy,  “The most important thing is that each of these walk-up clients immediately became IndoChino customers, even if they didn’t buy anything immediately.”

It was the purest example of O2O activation, in merging two worlds that would have seemingly existed in silo’s.

You Don’t Like it Why?

An additional advantage, particularly invaluable for any brand, start-ups most importantly, is the immediate consumer feedback.  Like a free and unbiased focus panel, brand marketers can obsess the pop-up visitor in an intimate setting and receive full demographic product feedback real-time (love is hard & feedback can be brutal).  Prior to investing in the next model or collection, what’s working and what’s not, is essential to ensuring you are hitting the sweet spot with consumers.  Also, where else are they shopping, who is killing the vertical and offering what your brand isn’t (free overnight rocks the competition every time, but at least know why you are losing out).

The Urgency Factor – When You’ve Got to Go Right Now

Similar to the initial days of ecommerce innovators like Gilt, pop-ups create a sense of urgency and limited time only excitement.  With a finely executed local social media push, fans of the brand will also effectively activate the marketing for the ‘event’ themselves.  Creating a buzz around the concept is key, and seeding influencers, is the path to creating the rush to the door.  Get the cool kids in town to promote, and online to offine (and in this case, back to online) viral-ity is the result.  Social media monster, WeChat, just reported that influencers create 10 times the engagement from consumers vs. brands promoting themselves.

Scarcity is a great opportunity for the pop-up marketing plan – products that can only be purchased during the 2 week event, promotional offers, online codes given out in-store, etc.   Make consumers have a reason to get there, and get there fast!  Hourly flash sales or invite only ‘previews’, nighttime cocktail shopping (a little free booze never hurts as a live call to action button),  special guests…. All advantages that gives the physical an advantage over digital traffic driving opportunities.


Mass Crowds – Let Someone Else Get Them There

SxSW is one of the most popular annual pop-up events in the US, with mobile kiosks and street marketers galore (and hangovers that seemingly lasts for months).   There is a reason that you can’t walk 5 feet without being handed a flyer promoting a brand’s physical activation nearby, a free massage, shot of tequila, or plastic sunglasses to help with the brightness after last night’s debauchery.  The demographics that span these events are huge – from computer geeks to film stars and rock gods, the masses are there, and brands are expected to make a presence, or fear becoming quickly obsolete.  Being relevant changes by the day, miss these events to promote, and someone else will take the opportunity to fill the space.

However, Wherever, Whenever, like the daily fan feedback to David Beckman (or maybe just the latest PM from me), pop-up opportunities are quick wins for brands to promote, educate, learn, and merge the O2O worlds for their consumers.  The opportunity spans across industries, deomographics, brand goals, or even ingrained consumer behaviors.  Bridge the gap and give consumers a reason to get outside and be social, without losing the convenience and lure of the online space.

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