Neighborhood Guides

How to Choose The Best Destination For Your Next Pop-Up

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One of the greatest advantages of pop-ups is the flexibility to travel to new places and introduce your brand to diverse markets. But nailing down exactly which destination to open a pop-up requires a lot of goal-setting, strategic planning and research.

Set Goals

If you don’t set out with specific goals in mind, it will be difficult to measure how successful your pop-up was. Perhaps it’s to launch a new product, do market research on a new concept, or grow your customer base.

Those goals can guide you in the right direction. If you want to test a new product, go to destinations where you have many existing customers. If you want to grow your customer base, head to a location with lots of foot traffic.

Identify Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience can help you narrow the list of destinations. You can determine whether they’re in urban or suburban areas, where and when they do their shopping, and how much they’re willing to spend.

If you’re an online retailer, evaluating your sales data can help you distinguish a profitable market base. Tools such as EASI Demographics can help with demographics data by neighborhood.

From there, decide if you’re going to base your pop-up location on geographic segmentation (a specific market, state, or region), demographic segmentation (targeting gender, age, income level, etc.), or time/seasonality.

Establish a Budget

Be conscious of your budget as you tour potential locations. A good rule of thumb is to expect your budget to break down like this:

  • 30% for the location itself (rental space)
  • 30% for staffing, promotion and miscellaneous expenses (travel and lodging to prepare for the pop-up, Wi-Fi, hired staff to work the store, marketing budget, etc.)
  • 20% for logistics (store set-up and moving inventory)
  • 20% for design (creating your optimal layout)

Learn lessons from other brands that have found success through their own pop-ups >

Big City or the Suburbs?

New York City and Los Angeles, the two most-populous American cities, remain top locations for pop-ups due to the sheer volume of the markets. Some brands have experimented with pop-ups in large cities as a way to provide convenience and access to shoppers without the hassle or commitment of operating a brick-and-mortar store in a congested area.

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Cards Against Humanity, a Chicago-based card game company, did exactly that with a pop-up shop at Block 37, an urban shopping and dining development in their home city. While this format likely would’ve worked in other large cities, it was a feasible step to start where they already have established roots.

However, there are a number of reasons you might choose smaller cities. It’s generally less expensive to rent space in smaller cities. Additionally, many small and medium-sized cities are renewing their image and fostering innovation, thus making them eager to welcome pop-up shops to stimulate the local economy.

You may also find in your research that your target audience resides primarily in smaller cities, or, you may want to branch out or test in a smaller market if you’re already operating in a larger city. Smaller markets such as Raleigh, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Richmond, Virginia; for example, have seen a surge in pop-ups.

Does your product cater to travelers? Take a cue from Canadian retailer Kit and Ace and open several pop-ups in multiple destinations frequented by tourists. The travel apparel brand targets an upscale market, so they opened pop-ups in several luxury hotels.


Consider Events

You’ve identified your target audience, and you can use the information about their interests to identify events that they’ll likely attend.

If you’re targeting a younger demographic, consider the opportunity in music festivals. More than 30 million people attend music festivals each year — the average attendee is 32 years old and affluent. Luxury brands such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Jimmy Choo have all capitalized on that demographic with a presence at Coachella.

iHeartRaves also seized the opportunity in music festivals. They coincided their Las Vegas pop-up with the Electric Daisy Carnival Electronic Dance Music festival — and sold more than $25,000 worth of products per hour.

Not all events have to be music-related. Many fashion and luxury brands have found success at Fashion Week, gaining visibility to a targeted demographic. Miami’s Art Basel is another event to consider. When determining which events make sense for your brand’s pop-up, refer back to your identified audience and understand where they’ll be — and why.

The Unexpected

Don’t be afraid to dream up an idea and work to have it come to fruition. For example, The Cliffside Shop opened 300 feet in the air, on the side of a canyon in Colorado. Or you can rent a 14-foot Isuzu glass box truck — complete with a 360-degree glass front to put your mobile pop-up experience on display.

If you find a unique pop-up venue that you know would make sense for your brand, goals and target audience, that can determine which destination you target for your next pop-up.


Set yourself up for retail success with the ultimate guide to opening a pop-up shop >

About the author

Alexandra Sheehan

Alexandra is a contributor for Storefront. Beyond offering up insights here, Alexandra is a copywriter and content strategist for retailers and retail industry leaders.