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  • Writer's pictureAnnette Yang

Gen Z Marketing: Pop-Up Shops

September 15, 2022

By: Annette Yang

Are pop-ups the start of a new shopping culture? With department stores like Sears and JCPenney now being perceived as Jurassic and fast-fashion online retailers becoming all the more popular, businesses are gearing up to face the challenge of promoting their brands in an increasingly fast-paced and saturated market. Brands need to figure out how to market to Gen Z, a generation whose shopping habits revolve around hype, fleeting trends, and short attention spans. To keep up with this landscape, many companies are finding their solution within pop-up shops.

Courtesy of Dior Beauty

Why Pop-Ups Work

Pop-ups work to target the rising generation for a number of reasons. Firstly, they work hand in hand with social media. When companies launch a limited and exciting pop-up event, consumers themselves conduct free advertising for these brands by posting photos of and sharing their experiences with the pop-up on social media. To activate this, brands can be seen using what Gen Z loves most: free products or other goodies like coffee or boba. Crowds swarm and we even see wait times of multiple hours in order to gain this “free” pop-up experience. Pop-ups are also a perfect way to introduce new audiences to a brand in a cost and time-efficient manner. Pop-ups usually only last a few days or for a limited period which increases exclusivity and demand for people to go check them out. Despite being able to catch audiences’ attention in a short period of time, pop-ups don’t have to sacrifice the physical element of the shopping experience. Usually, shoppers spend hours at a department store looking at different options. At pop-ups, consumers are in and out while still being able to physically interact with the product or service the brand is promoting. Lastly, pop-ups are beneficial to companies for more than generating a quick uptick in customer traffic. Pop-ups can be a great way to gather data on customer reactions, feedback, demographics and psychographics, and more. This information can be extremely valuable for companies to evaluate what kind of consumers to target or how to strategize for marketing.

Courtesy of Showfields

Not Your Traditional Shopping Experience

In New York City, we see pop-ups influencing a brand-new type of shopping. Companies like Naked and Showfields have stepped up the pop-up game by presenting an experience of shopping consisting of solely pop-ups. These stores present an array of pop-ups from varying brands for consumers to walk through, switching the brands up every now and then. What each pop-up showcases vary; clothing, beverages, cosmetics, and lifestyle are just a few of the types of products you will find. You could compare this shopping experience to going to a nice dinner with a set tasting menu that gives you a little bit of everything. Stores like Naked and Showfields are located in the ever-popular Soho area which is known for its high leasing prices and retail competition. Having pop-up-centric stores allows for smaller businesses to have more of a reach by giving them an opportunity to promote their brand and product in a high-traffic location for a short period of time. Naked and Showfields are also both known to have highly interactive features which include but are not limited to: a secret slide, reflective tunnel, and a basketball court. Pop-ups allow brands to have fun exploring creative ideas, create impressionable experiences for visitors, and communicate their brand in a refreshing way.

As pop-ups challenge more traditional shopping experiences, it appears that consumers are eager for elements of inspiration, creativity, and impact when they choose to buy into a brand. But one thing’s for sure; pop-ups aren’t leaving anytime soon, so we can look forward to more exciting ideas coming to life via the marketing extravaganza.


Annette Yang is the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 Content Director. She is a Junior at NYU Steinhardt majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication and minoring in Business and Data Science. Stay tuned for more content from Annette!

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