Luxury brands use pop-up stores to test in-store digital experiences

The rise of pop-up stores

All around the world, luxury brands have opened pop-up stores to offer their customers a refreshing retail experience with a temporary focus on a specific selection of products. Formats have been diverse, ranging from the diner-like Hermès pop-up in NYC in 2013, to Hublot’s crystal-like installation in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands the same year. But what these stores have in common is a strong retail concept (with an emphasis on architecture and design), and a small selection of products presented.

Experimenting with in-store digital experiences

Over the years, brands have been increasingly integrating digital in their retail strategies to offer an omni-channel seamless experience to customers. Pop-ups fit in these efforts. Given their small size, unique location and limited time availability, they offer a great opportunity to experiment with technology and online-to-offline services. Efforts are easier to deploy here than for an entire retail strategy. moreover, managers can observe customers’ responses to these new services in real time. Pop-ups being marketed as events, visitors are more eager to try out what the brand created specifically for the occasion, and this provides marketers with an extensive set of subjects in their experiment.

Chanel Pop Up Seoul

A recent example of this is Chanel’s pop-up store in Seoul, South Korea, in June this year. The brand promoted its makeup collection and Coco Mademoiselle fragrance in a colorful glass store, just off Gangnam Station, in Seoul’s buzzing shopping district. During two weeks, visitors were invited to experience the colorful, pop and joyful aspect of the brand through a mobile game. (NB : visitors could try products but could not purchase them directly in the store. It was a branding event.)

Chanel developed a mobile app specifically for this pop-up store, using beacon technology to create a puzzle game giving visitors access to gifts. Beacons were set up throughout the store, to interact with Chanel’s app to unlock elements as visitors moved inside the store. When hostesses welcomed visitors in the store, they helped customers install the app and activate their phones’ settings to get the full interactive experience.

Chanel Pop Up Seoul app screenshot

Through this game, Chanel experimented with the use of beacons in its stores and created a fun, memorable experience for its customers. Both the store’s design and the game reinforced the brand’s recent positioning as a fun and playful prestige beauty brand for young women. In a country such as Korea, where customers care greatly about their appearance and where smartphones are used by 89% of the population, Chanel managed to create a specific retail experience for a specific audience of digital early adopters and beauty-enthusiasts.

Let’s wait and see how this experiment transforms into a new retail experience throughout the brand’s retail network.

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