The ‘Pop-up’ Concept: Managing the Temporality of Brand Experiences

  • Mengxia Shi

Student thesis: Phd


‘Pop-up’ is essentially a very simple concept: a temporary retail-oriented setting/territory designed to foster a direct customer-brand interaction for a limited period. In recent years the ‘pop-up’ epithet has become ever more commonplace, applied to a variety of commercial activities, from shops/bars/restaurants to cinemas/galleries, as well as various brand-oriented promotional initiatives. The pop-up model is expanding, with established businesses, both traditional and online, launching pop-up activities to complement their business, relating for example, to the communication of brand values and other relevant information, increasing sales, and as a means of testing market potential in new segments or geographical areas with less risk. Pop-up has, consequently, been considered as a type of marketing communication activity, and also in interactive and relational terms whereby customer experience is co-created through participation and involvement within a branded environment. The interaction within this territory can shape the brand identity and influence perceptions of the physical products sold. Notwithstanding the increasing range of organisations incorporating pop-up activity into a variety of business strategies, it has been the direct focus of relatively little academic research. The current research reported adopts a more overt managerial perspective, taking general management principles (especially relating to customer experience and event management), and exploring them in the context of pop-up retailing. The aim of this research was to investigate the managerial processes involved in the planning and implementation of pop-up activities, through a series of key informant interviews with those responsible for their management. This research has involved semi-structured depth interviews with a range of stakeholders (including senior managers, representatives from brand organizations, design consultancies, events management agencies, as well as freelance contractors) involved in the development, management and/or implementation of these temporal brand experiences. Respondents were responsible for different aspects of a variety of different types of pop up activities (which were identified using a contrasting case study approach). This research has shown that pop-up activities can be used as a way to drive strategic growth for retail brands, as well as contributing to existing business strategies, in particular by creating a unique experientially-oriented environment that engages customers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity. The experiential, interactive and targeted nature of pop-up activities can ensure that they contribute to enhancing emotional connections with customers, and also in terms of building an affective connection between customers and the brand across time and space.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLiz Barnes (Supervisor) & Lee Quinn (Supervisor)


  • pop-up
  • territory
  • customer experience
  • retail environment

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