Georgia Stafford
Georgia is a Research Analyst on the UK BPC Reports team. She researches and writes UK Reports, focusing on the OTC/BPC categories.

Pop-ups, true to their name, are temporary retail spaces that engage consumers immersively – in a crowded beauty market with many brands finding fame on social media, how can one stand out and stay close with the “experiential retail” trend? With consumers eagerly seeking out new, different and exciting retail experiences, beauty brands can tap into this with innovative pop-ups driven by aesthetics, community and social media sharing. In this blog, we examine how the short term nature of physical pop-ups encourages a sentiment of exclusive community and spurs on a feeling of affiliation towards a brand, but also serves as a driver for the fostering of long term brand loyalty.

1. Become a tangible destination to enhance visitor experience

A key factor in providing an exciting and engaging pop-up is focusing on the visitor experience. There is opportunity for brands to remind consumers about the excitement of in-store beauty discovery by opening limited-time pop-up stores, seen from the likes of Beauty Pie and Rare Beauty. Rare Beauty’s Café, which opened in partnership with Space NK for a limited time in London during February 2022, allowed visitors to immerse themselves in the brand. With a café serving drinks with themed latte art, not only could consumers learn about the brand by participating in beauty masterclasses, they could also sample and purchase products at a physical location that encourages socialisation.

Source: Space NK/Rare Beauty. Rare Beauty’s limited time pop-up cafe offers beauty masterclasses for consumers to enhance their journeys of product discovery.

The limited time nature of pop-ups means those who do manage to visit can feel part of an exclusive community, in line with Mintel Trend Experience is All. In the case of Rare Beauty, whose branding encourages acceptance with slogans such as ‘Don’t be perfect, be Rare’, visitors feel inclined to get behind the brand’s concept and feel aligned with the brand’s ethos, furthering a sense of community. Going further, brands can look to increase consumer engagement by installing pop-ups outside of central business districts. Touring pop-ups in the UK for example, as seen with Fresh’s Milk Float in 2022 – which visited Bath and Guildford as well as London destinations, can be an effective means of spreading brand awareness beyond capital cities.

2. Create an offline identity for online brands

Although many beauty brands may be well established online, they lack an offline presence in terms of having a brick-and-mortar store. Nearly four in ten beauty/grooming product buyers are keen to find out about new products in store, thus brands can bring the identity they have built online via their website and social media to the real world. Having an offline-presence, even if temporary, gives beauty brands an opportunity to widen brand recognition and educate consumers on the ethos of the brand as well as give a spotlight to hero products.

Source: Covent Garden/Capco. Wordplay, punchy slogans and staff vests in Beauty Pie’s warehouse themed pop-up encourage consumers to be a part of the brand’s community.

Beauty Pie, which has built a name for itself online, opened a warehouse themed pop-up in Covent Garden’s Beauty Corner in 2022 – a popular shopping and tourist destination in the heart of London. Thanks to the pop-up’s central placement, consumers who had seen the brand’s advertising or have vague brand recognition could easily visit the store and try products for the first time. Indeed, for luxury brands without an offline presence, a pop-up that establishes brand identity and gives consumers ample opportunity to sample products can remove any perceived risk they find in paying up for a premium product. Knowledgeable sales associates can also help with this process – not only are they ambassadors for the brand’s ethos and values, they can also provide a level of personalisation to the physical shopping experience. 

3. Harness the power of social media to build hype

While pop-ups are an excellent opportunity to immerse consumers in the world of a brand, they can also harness the power of social media to encourage hype to build around a brand and help it go viral. A unique store experience will likely encourage social media sharing, particularly among young consumers, since more than six in ten of 16-24 year olds have recommended a product to others on social media.

Source: Mintel. Our analysts visited the Instagram-worthy space of Kylie Cosmetics Pop-up and joined the excited crowd in sampling products and sharing on social media.

Branded, boldly coloured and Instagram-worthy interiors – as seen with Beauty Pie’s pink themed warehouse and with Kylie Cosmetics’ ‘Glam Park’, which took over Covent Garden’s Piazza for a weekend in August, can continue the buzz the brand has hopefully already achieved on social media. Brands can even offer dedicated spaces for pop-up visitors to take pictures with photo-booths where pictures can be directly shared to social media or with colourful backgrounds, seen at the Kylie Cosmetics’ pop-up. Going further, brands can merge-in person pop-ups with the virtual world by hosting events in the metaverse to widen reach or by using VR technology to allow visitors to try on different looks which can then be shared on social media.

What we think

Uniquely designed spaces with attractive decor can build hype around a brand by encouraging sharing on social media, as consumers pose with products or write reviews for much anticipated new launches. Using both tangible contact with consumers and virtual engagement across social media, exclusive pop-ups can help drive a feeling of community around a brand, giving consumers a sense of belonging in their purchase journeys. In addition, online brands – which may lack an offline presence – can further establish their brand ethos and build awareness by having temporary store space to showcase their products to prospective consumers.

If you’re interested in learning how to leverage pop-up spaces to promote your brand, please get in touch with our experts here. If you’re a Mintel client interested in learning more, please speak to your Account Manager, or check out this related blog.