A variety of pop up responses
The upheavals caused by the CV-19 pandemic… lockdowns, isolation and stock shortages… have been a huge challenge for many people – and industries. There’s been more than a few pop up responses to the changing situations, as retailers and suppliers struggle to go about their business. I suppose this is where “pop up” can work (or thrive…), swiftly providing solutions in unique (evolving…) circumstances.
Once a prime location for top-end pop up stores, major airports have experienced a huge reduction in travellers – Sydney Airport “recorded a drop of 98% of passengers in the month up to mid May”#. With the sudden departure of customers (!) shops are deserted between the occasional flights, and most air-side retailers have closed. TheGuardian.com reports that duty free store Heinemann has been “running a sale store in Sydney’s Woollahra to move expiring stock”# That seems a clever pop up response… I suppose they figured that if customers can’t come through the airport, they could take product out to them !
Trade shows and industry exhibitions have also been hit hard by the pandemic, having to cancel or postpone major events. In the US, Highpoint North Carolina hosts “the largest furnishing industry trade show in the world… every six months”% The High Point Market cancelled their April 2020 event, but is looking forward to the Fall market (October). In the meantime, demand is still high for doing business… stock has arrived at the wholesalers and retailers are keen to purchase… So last week the Market hosted an “impromptu three-day pop-up gathering”, with 150 exhibitors hosting appointment-only meetings. This might be a new mode for trade shows – scheduling visits to targeted audiences with strict timings. FurnitureToday.com quoted one supplier (exhibitor) saying “While nothing like a typical market for attendance, the necessity to control numbers of people had its benefits…. these small meetings made for a more personalized, relaxed presentation of goods. They’ve been very meaningful; it’s not like premarket when everyone’s just looking, they need product right now.”
Turning away from physical pop up, Australian media-giant Nine (TV, radio and publishing) will deliver its annual trade marketing / sales push in an on-line format this year, building on the success of their 2018 / 2019 pop up formats. Nine’s The Big Ideas Store had previously been hosted in high-profile, themed hospitality suites (Sydney and Melbourne in 2019) but has opted to deliver 2 weeks of “virtual events, workshops, insights studies and speakers”* for 2020. I imagine access will again be limited to marketers and agency-partner clients, keen to consider Nine’s portfolio of offerings. Visitors will experience talent panels and insights, quizzes and yoga, and explore the “rise of echo chambers…(and) fandoms”, among other industry concepts.*
But the demand for “traditional retail-style” pop up hasn’t disappeared altogether – and there are some pop up responses which might, um, be exploiting the situation… In Miami USA there’s a specialty COVID-19 pop up store, selling pandemic essentials such as masks, sanitizers and handy gadgets. The Miami Herald is a bit cynical in its description of the store (and satellite kiosk) within the Aventura Mall – saying it seems to sell “everything you need to survive the coronavirus pandemic (although) it does not sell everything… it does not sell liquor or ice cream, two important factors in keeping you safe at home…”^ The store doesn’t require shoppers to wear a face mask – but neither does the ‘Mall outside – in contravention of the Miami Mayor’s announcement just days ago that “anyone within city limits (must) wear masks in public, except for people doing rigorous exercise… Several of the county’s most densely populated cities… including Aventura… committed to implementing a similar regulation.”@
The COVID-19 Essentials store offers a variety of Black Lives Matter / I can’t breathe face masks – $29 for a “simple mask” or $45 for a “blinged-out” (sequined) version… a scented hand sanitizer for $9 (and regular gel hand sanitizer for $5.99 – that’s $4.40 dearer than the same size bottle at a CVS Pharmacy)… and non-contact door openers / button-pushers The bad news, says the Miami Herald, is the Essentials store “does not sell common sense … crucial in fighting the spread of the virus and in woefully short supply in Miami… (just) walk around the mall and count how many people are wearing masks below their noses.”^
% source : HighPointMarket.org / about
images : High Point furnishings, airport departures, The Big Ideas Store, COVID-19 Essentials store USA, Banksy’s Girl with a pierced eardrum (CV-19)
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