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    – 14 october 2016 –

    Conceived in Los Angeles in 1999, the concept of the pop-up store first appeared in Belgium nearly ten years later. It is estimated that, since 2014, about three ephemeral shops open in the Kingdom every day. Given that everything seems to indicate that the concept meets the expectations of Brussels’ shoppers, Atrium.Brussels has taken a closer look at the phenomenon.

    Tokyo inspires Los Angeles, the origins of the concept

    The California brand Vacant first got the inspiration for the pop-up store when faced with endless lines of customers in front of a Tokyo store. The Japanese store, which sold limited edition runs, was forced to close its doors, a victim of its own success. The American brand came up with the idea of a temporary store that would go where people were, from city to city and from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

    Yet, the pop-store’s paternity is often attributed to Guerrilla Shops, launched by Comme des Garçons in 2004. The Japanese brand wanted to make a statement against the major flagship stores of luxury brands like Prada, which were commercially aggressive and architecturally pretentious.

    « Historically, the main goal of Japanese retailers like Comme des Garçons, with their guerrilla stores, was to defy retail marketing conventions by adding radicalism and revolution. [1]»

    [1] Picot-Coupey, K. – Pop-up stores and the international development of retail networks. International marketing trends conference, Venise, Italie, 2012

    The emergence of the pop-up in Belgium

    Few traces remain of the opening of the first pop-up store in Belgium. The oldest articles on the subject appeared in 2008 in the newspaper Le Soir and at the end of 2012 in L’Avenir. One of the precursors was most certainly Chronostock whose strategy was based on the use of ephemeral spaces. The Lyon brand was launched in 2008 and opened its first Belgian store two years later in Louvain-la-Neuve.

    « The pop-up store made its appearance in Belgium only recently. However, it’s already a sure thing here. Levi’s opened an ephemeral store in Antwerp to present its new premium line, Levi’s Blue. H&M also gave it a shot at the end of 2011 with the installation of a temporary store at the Christmas market in Brussels. [2]»

    While ephemeral retail quickly gained traction with major brands, there was also another kind of instigator in Brussels. Artisans and small independent shops took advantage of temporarily available spaces to get themselves known, test (their product, neighbourhood, target, concept) and hone their skills as merchants.

    There were also joint ventures like Mom Pop Up Store, Chapter One and Artisans 1060. By sharing resources, pop-uppers further reduced costs, completed their offering and promoted their brand more widely.

    [2] Lourtie S. – Pop-Up Store, le buzz de l’éphémère. L’Avenir 2012

    Eight Brussels residents out of 10 have already been in a pop-up store

    Although the trend is relatively new in our country, its upward progress can’t be ignored. To better understand it, we carried out an online survey on Atrium.Brussels between 29 March and 8 June 2016. The typical profile of the 216 respondents was as follows: women (60%) French-speaking (94%), employees (44%) or self-employed (23.1%), between the ages of 25 and 39 (74.1%), living as a couple with (35.2%) or without children (27.3%).

    Portrait-Jeremy Vanhuffelen

    While seven people out of 10 are familiar with the pop-up store concept, 80% of respondents said that they had already been into an ephemeral store. The survey also revealed that the products most frequently purchased are fashion (61%) and household items (40%).

    Being ephemeral has benefits, but also has drawbackst

    The customers surveyed saw a number of benefits. They appreciate the exclusivity (36.3%), experience (17.6%) and innovativeness (16.5%) of pop-ups. They also find that prices are more competitive (19.8%) compared to traditional stores. It’s interesting to note that the ephemeral aspect is in itself a benefit for customers (16.5%) since it provides an element of surprise and urgency.

    Portrait-Cécile Veyrié

    Although the pop-up formula has many benefits, it isn’t fail-proof. The people surveyed for our study said that the ephemeral aspect of the concept is also a major disadvantage. While 16.5% see it as an advantage, 58.5% said that, on the contrary, the ephemeral nature of the concept is a negative, raising concerns about after-sales service (10%) and making customer loyalty more difficult to build (24%).

    « The majority of people surveyed think that we’ll still be hearing about pop-up stores in the coming years. »

    Nearly 65% of people surveyed believe that the pop-up store concept has a bright future ahead of it. A large majority (80%) would like to see more of them in the retail districts they go to.

    Opening a pop-up store in Brussels

    Atrium.Brussels has analysed the phenomenon in depth to better support the trend. The results of the study will be presented next 28 October. Entitled “Why and how to open a pop-up store in Brussels”, the meeting will plunge you into the fleeting world of the pop-up. You will also receive a free copy of the guide at the end of the presentation.

    Portrait-Cécile Veyrié

    Cover Study : Why and how open a pop up store in Brussels?

    October 14, 2016
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