Over the last few years there’s been a huge rise in the number of start-ups and businesses creating pop-up experiences for their customers as a tool for testing the market and drumming up business in a unique way. Just look at BoxPark in Shoreditch – an ongoing popup space for new businesses in London.
If you’re not familiar with what pop-up marketing is, the Cambridge Business Dictionary describes it as:
“A store that opens suddenly and usually exists for a short amount of time. Or; A temporary pop-up store often appears when retailers take advantage of empty retail space.”
Whilst this trend is taking off and more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon, we wanted to explore the pros and cons of pop-up marketing, so you can decide whether it’s something you want to invest in for your business or not.
1. Cheap or free rent
Pop up spaces are usually free or very cheap to rent over other shop rates – great if you’ve a small budget.
2. It’s great PR for your business
Pop Ups still have a novel feel, especially in towns and cities that haven’t had an influx of pop ups. This can help generate press coverage in the local paper, magazines, radio and on blogs.
3. It can help create a buzz and pull people into your shop
People will come just to experience the novelty of the pop up and that can introduce them to your business and products for a long term relationship.
4. You can interact with your customers 1-2-1
Many online only stores lose the experience of talking to their customers 1-2-1, even with the use of social media. Creating a ‘real’ space for you to interact and engage your customers will not only feel good for them, but help you understand your customers better and even test new ideas and products and get real-time feedback.
5. Pop-ups can increase sales and help you offload old stock
This short burst of activity can boost sales temporarily and help shift stock you’ve been holding onto for too long.
1. Finding space is hard
Dan Thompson, founder of the Empty Shops Network and author of Pop Up Business for Dummies is a huge advocate for this trend in the UK. However he says that “finding a space is the trickiest part”. Many landlords and estate agents are suspicious of popups and won’t even consider it. Finding space will take time.
2. Marketing in good time
You need to create buzz and excitement before you open, as you won’t be there long. This can be hard work and will add to your budget.
3. Customer service can slip
Your customers may feel they can’t return an item or have prolonged customer service once the pop up is over – this could put them off buying from you.
4. Limited stock/choice for customers
Popups are generally small spaces with limited choice, which might not show off your business in its best light, and may be frustrating for your popup customers.
5. You can’t keep the pop up going
You may not be able to continue the pop up even if you like the location and it’s a great success. Some of the success may also be down to it being temporary – so you’ll need to plan how to prolong the buzz and interest.
6. Health, Safety and Insurance
Finding suitable shop contents insurance can be difficult and empty shops and spaces can have health and safety hazards that you may not be prepared for.
Hospitality and Catering businesses based in the European Union (EU) need to be aware of a big change to the law around how products are labelled in regards to Allergens.
This change is coming into place in December 2014. It was published in October 2011, to give businesses like yours time to adapt, however if you are unaware of the change till now, you’ve a couple of months to understand and prepare yourself for it.
To help make it simple, we’re outlining the details of the change and how it’ll affect your business below:
The Change in The Law
From December 2014 allergen information must be provided for foods sold non-packed and/or pre-packed for direct sale.
Food which is sold loose or served out-of-the-home will also require clear allergen information to be made aware to consumers.
What This Means for Your Business
From December 2014 you will need to highlight 14 types of food allergen contained in the food you offer clearly on your:
These 14 allergens are:
- Crustaceans and molluscs
- Tree nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut, Macadamia nut and Queensland nut)
- Sulphites and Sulphur dioxide
- Celery and celeriac
- Cereals containing gluten
Some allergens have been excluded from this regulation as they’re uncommon in the EU. They include:
- Garlic and onion
- Pine nut
Although you don’t need to highlight these particular allergens, you may wish to include them for the benefit of your customers.
If you have a set and regular menu, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for you. However, if you change your menu and dishes on a frequent basis (for example if you base them on fresh and in-season ingredients) you will need to update the information available to your customers when you update your dishes. This of course can add a time consuming task but it is essential that you do it. Try to find ways to manage this and automate it as best as possible – and put a system in place to make this information readily available for your customers.
It’s also important to educate your staff about the change to legislation so they’re also aware of what you customers need to know and how you must display the information in your restaurant.
Additional information to help you
This change is complex and it’s recommended that you look through the guidance which The British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation have produced. In this guidance, they set out clear criteria for educating your customers and details on how to declare each allergenic ingredient.
You can read the guidance here.
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