Picture yourself walking down the sidewalk on an average day. Amid the familiarity, something out of the ordinary appears. As its novelty catches your eye, do you gravitate toward it? The answer is probably yes.

For brands, attracting consumers’ attention in novel ways is increasingly crucial. As highlighted in Mintel’s 2017 North America Consumer Trend “The Echo Chamber of Secrets,” consumers are inadvertently becoming distanced from brands that are outside of their echo chambers, meaning that brands must turn to approaches like blurring categories and extending into new channels in order to reach target audiences. Furthermore, as evolving societal factors cause the role of social and digital media to change at a rapid pace (see: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook manifesto), advertising on those forms of media still remains unfailingly vital – but so does the importance of supplementing with other marketing tactics.

Unique physical spaces allow
brands to stand out from the familiar clutter – and step into consumers’ bubbles.

“The Echo Chamber of Secrets” also highlights that, for packaged goods brands or those with a digital-only presence, establishing a physical location creates an entirely new channel that can subvert tricky content feeds. Unique physical spaces allow brands to stand out from the familiar clutter – and step into consumers’ bubbles. A more specific opportunity lies in piquing consumer interest by experimenting with temporary physical spaces in unexpected places, as explored in the new Mintel Trend Popscape. While pop-ups are not entirely new, there is renewed potential for leveraging their flexible purposes in today’s echo-chamber world.

Where e-commerce wins with convenience, for example, retailing pop-ups can win with surprise and delight, and they can also serve as a testing ground before companies make an investment:

  • Snap Inc. garnered substantial buzz when it began selling its new Snapchat Spectacles via mysterious, limited-time pop-up vending machines located in different cities around the US.

There’s also the potential to allow consumers to explore a brand’s offerings in unexpected, technology-based ways:

  • As part of its Espresso Yourself campaign, Match.com opened a pop-up café in London that 3D-printed photos of eligible members onto the foam of free coffees.
  • In Bangkok, Mercedes-Benz ran a stylish pop-up restaurant called Mercedes me BOX, where visitors used installed tablets to browse information about its latest vehicle models and register for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience.

Real-time social engagement can make product trial even more engaging:

  • Quaker Oats hosted the Oat Café, where the menu was dictated by likes on Instagram. Oatmeal dish recipes with the highest number of votes were added to the menu for 30 minutes before being replaced by the next popular recipe.

And as human expertise grows in importance (see Mintel Trend Return to the Experts), pop-ups can serve as platforms for providing this element:

  • In Pinamar, Argentina, beauty brand Natura opened a pop-up space where consumers can relax in hammocks, try out new products and enjoy access to make-up sessions, hand massages and talks conducted by beauty experts.
  • Whisky brand Johnnie Walker launched Johnnie Walker on the Road, a tailor-made truck that traveled across Brazil offering product tastings that were guided by an expert and soundtracked by a jazz band.

On a basic level, pop-ups can be themed to solidify the brand’s purpose and image in a physical capacity:

  • Nissan showed its commitment to sustainable energy by opening an Electric Café in Paris where guests could pay off their bill by creating energy on electricity-producing exercise bikes.
  • In London, Lululemon launched the Om The Move double-decker meditation bus, which used tranquility-inducing scents and colors, antioxidant-rich snacks, noise-blocking headphones and steamed face towels to calm its passengers.

As you stroll down the sidewalk today, imagine what would catch your eye. How can your brand leverage creative, new physical spaces to engage with harder-to-reach consumers?

Stacy Bingle is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. Stacy joined Mintel in 2013 bringing with her an exciting blend of CPG, agency and marketing experience. Her time is spent traveling the US engaging clients across global CPG, Beauty and Financial Services in meaningful discussions around the consumer trends that will propel their businesses forward.

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