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A free-for-all can pop up your sales

The UK high street could learn a thing or two from the savvy US retail marketing industry, which would prefer retailers and brands to throw up a temporary bricks-and-mortar pop-up shop to grab consumer interest, rather than a couple of days of frenzied voucher shopping.

Sale periods mean any excuse to entice customers out to shop – but why not make it an enjoyable experience and give something back to credit-crunch weary shoppers? Consumer insight agency The Future Laboratory recently dubbed it “freesumerism”, and the practice of utilising third parties to provide useful free products or services in return for a bit of a branded retail experience is something consumers are increasingly open to.

So take note of the Wired store in New York’s SoHo district, which is rich in gadgets and man-friendly products and is hosted by the US magazine of the same name, or Teen Vogue’s Haute Holiday store in Short Hills Mall, New Jersey, full of the magazine’s pick of advertisers’ products in a fluffy teen hangout. The big guns are at it too – Gap Red got in on the act with its dedicated Holiday shop in New York.

Essentially, pop-ups serve as a constantly changing marketing space and can be used as more than just a PR tool. Vodka brand Absolut’s vintage boutique House of Masquerade’s recent three-day party pop-up in east London’s Shoreditch was a textbook example of how to throw third-party cash around and create an experience.

More marketers and retailers should get together and innovate in today’s competitive retail climate – shoppers don’t mind the ads, as long as they get something for free.

Alison Bishop is a freelance retail writer

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