The Pros and Cons of Pop-Up Marketing

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.


The Pros

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. Its 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.


The Cons

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 cant 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.

The New Allergen Legislation: What Restaurants Need to Know

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:

  • menus
  • packaging
  • displays

These 14 allergens are:

  1. Gluten
  2. Peanuts
  3. Crustaceans and molluscs
  4. Tree nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut, Macadamia nut and Queensland nut)
  5. Soya
  6. Milk
  7. Sulphites and Sulphur dioxide
  8. Fish
  9. Egg
  10. Lupin
  11. Sesame
  12. Celery and celeriac
  13. Mustard
  14. Cereals containing gluten

Some allergens have been excluded from this regulation as they’re uncommon in the EU. They include:

  • Garlic and onion
  • Yeast
  • Chestnut
  • Pine nut
  • Coconut

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.

Kitchen Nightmares: Hygiene Regulations Many Restaurants Forget

Every UK restaurant, cafe, coffee shop and takeaway joint is rated by the Food Standards Agency here in the UK – the data of which is shared publicly. Not only that, customers are taking to social media and forums to ‘out’ restaurants they catch in the act of poor hygiene – naming and shaming and reporting to the authorities.

But many restaurants do try hard to adhere to food safety and hygiene regulations – so why are so many restaurants failing to hit the mark and why are so many failing to realise that they’re not up to scratch?


Well it turns out that some of the biggest causes of poor food hygiene and food poisoning are being ‘forgotten’ by many restaurants in the UK.

Food storage is one of the key problems when it comes to hygiene in restaurants – as food needs to be properly chilled and stored to stop bacteria growing and multiplying. If foods such as meat, dairy, cooked dishes, salads deserts and other ‘ready-to-eat’ dishes are left out at room temperature for a prolonged period of time (more than a couple of minutes), it can cause harmful bacteria to grow which is one of the the most common cause of food poisoning. All staff, including those serving foods and not just chefs, should understand the safe storage of food to prevent problems.

Reheating foods is another big problem for restaurants, especially if the labeling of foods to be reheated isn’t clear – as there’s a risk of reheating twice. Reheated foods should be steaming hot all the way through or reach a temperature of 70°C for more than 2 minutes. Foods which have been reheated but not eaten should be discarded immediately.It’s also important to ensure that the food is properly chilled and stored before it is reheated – as if its not bacteria can grow at a rapid rate.

Although many restaurants feel they are good at keeping the food preparation area clean, often the kitchens and areas are ‘surface’ cleaned only – meaning there’s lots of hidden dirt and germs building up behind equipment, underneath storage and getting caught in hidden places. It’s really important for restaurants to not only make sure the areas are well set up in the first place to aid cleanliness but that a deep clean is part of the daily routine and all nooks and crannies are paid attention too and not overlooked or ignored – as that’s where bacteria and infestations will occur.

It’s also worth noting that many restaurants have incredibly dirty mops (or similar tools) and that the equipment used to ‘clean’ isn’t clean itself! Damp mop heads can harbour germs and will spread them around the floor if not properly disinfected themselves. Ensure cleaning equipment is clean before use!

Cross contamination is also one of the most common and dangerous of kitchen nightmares. Keeping raw and cooked food separate, using separate equipment and washing hands between tasks and handling different types of food is paramount. Avoid spreading bacteria from raw food to cooked and to your guests by making sure your staff understand what cross contamination is, and how it can be avoided.