Hello, my fellow gurus! I want to share my latest and greatest retail centering experience. My epiphany occurred at Wanderlust Squaw Valley 2015. Most people think of Wanderlust as a giant hippie festival. While that is rather true a lot of the stereotypes associated with the festival are false. Wanderlust appeals to all people, especially those interested in entrepreneurship, marketing, communication, really any and everything. I say this because the 60+ vendors that congregate at Wanderlust every year is incredible and awe inspiring. Vendors such as Tom’s shoes, Lulu Lemon, Google, Lifeway, Quest Nutrition, Manduka, Zappos, and many more went above and beyond.
One of the major things I learned from my experience was the development of “pop-up” retail. Pop-up is essentially when a store or vendor takes grabs an EZ Up, their product and sets up shop anywhere. This is brilliant for many reasons. First off, there is very little overhead, if any (no rent and no bills) Ummm…. Yes please! Second, you are mobile which essentially means you can travel to your clientele, if one location is not working for your company you can move. For example, there were retailers for Buddha Pants at Wanderlust. In fact my daughter and her friend/my employee fell in love the second they laid their eyes on these pants. Now, if I were to just see these pants on the hanger in the mall I would have walked the other way but the fact that every other person was rocking Buddha pants made the appeal that much greater. Essentially a retailer gets free advertising and models for their clothing, in fact the “models” are paying your company. And the beauty of it all is these vendors can travel with the festival.
However, there are some downsides to “Pop-up” retail as well as areas where a company like Creative Marketing Arts can step in and help these retailers. The first area of possible improvement is stock management. When my daughter and Kayla decided to purchase Buddha Pants the retailer was all out of pants and it was only halfway through the third day of the four day festival. The two girls asked where to find Buddha Pants and the shop owner referred them to the website. Here is the kicker, Buddha Pants was having a Wanderlust sale and the product was 25% for the yogis that bought their pants at the festival. However, when the girls pulled up the website, the special did not apply to those yogis who had to buy pants online. This is a huge flaw and probably cost Buddha Pants a loss of thousands of dollars in sale. Here is my recommendation to “Pop-up” retailers like Buddha Pants, create a promo code for Wanderlusters or a special deal for everyone that is available on the website as well. This way a retailer can still seek the benefits of little overhead as well the stock options of a full store. Sales personnel can even carry a laptop and order sold out products immediately online. Lag time and leaving product purchase to the customer should be a last resort especially if the “pop-up” is in the middle of a stimulating festival like Wanderlust. You never want your customer to find something later in place of your product. Make things, quick, easy, and customer friendly!
The next fabulous piece of retail information that I acquired at Wanderlust was the frenzy of free merchandise and consumer response to free product. Tito’s Vodka was the most effective with their giveaways. Tito’s literally only had to set up a table and place free t-shirts and bandanas on a table. Within 2 minutes all the merchandise had been pillaged. Immediately having one of these shirts became the hip trend at the festival. Those who had these shirts were seen as rock-stars and those who had the merchandise (my daughter and her friend) wanted to drink Tito’s all weekend because the Tito’s stand gave them props for having the T-shirt. They are also girls and wanted their drink to match their shirt. This is another great example of free marketing. On the flip side, there was a merchant called Perfectly Powerful Peanuts. Last year at Wanderlust, this peanut vendor gave away free shirts that said “Peanut Envy”. Similar to the Tito’s merchandise, these “Peanut Envy” shirts were all the rage. This year, however, the t-shirts were only available for a $10 donation to a non-profit that donates peanut butter to staving kids. My first thought was “starving kids where?” my second thought was “what a horrible marketing idea!” My thinking behind these two ideas is, first, as horrible as it sounds, many people are skeptics so if you say their donation is going somewhere, people want proof of where exactly the money is going and Perfectly Powerful Peanut did not even specify where the money was going. Secondly, I feel as if people would be more likely to give a donation if the T-Shirts were free. Free T-Shirts results in more people wearing the shirts which leads to more exposure of the brand, increased popularity, and finally an increase in foot-traffic to the pop-up and donations.
My third point about Pop-ups is the need for visiual appeal. A pop-up can have giveaways and good merchandise but if the Pop-up is not visually appealing, people are not likely to stop by and snaek a peek at the merchandise. At Wanderlust there were 3 Pop-ups that had the most foot-traffic as well as popularity that spread by word of mouth and those three vendors were Lulu Lemon, Zappos, and Toms Shoes. They were the three biggest and most elaborate Pop-ups. Lulu Lemon was called the d’Om and this pop-up was the heart of the festival. The d’Om featured some of the most popular DJs as well as free feather hair extensions, sunscreen massages (which was a brilliant idea), places to nap which my daughter loved all wrapped up in a giant dome with beautiful lights and wooden sculptures. In the center of the room was a display that resembled a tree trunk in which the DJs and voclists showcased their music. This created a lot of traffic to the d’Om as well as sales for Lulu Lemon. Lulu was also giving away cut satchel bags with every purchase. These probably cost Lulu maybe $1-$2 per bag but the most inexpensive thing in the store was a $15 water bottle (most product was upwards of $80). People were going nuts over these bags and it seemed as if everyone wanted to have one. Great idea on Lulu’s part, also they never ran out so the product management was on point, unlike Buddha Pants. Toms and Zappos also had similar sets ups. Toms had mediation pillows and tables to enjoy coffee, tea, and a cocktail, and Zappos offered hammocks, washable tattoos and hair braiding, as well as a place to put your shoes when you were in your practice.
All in all, the establishment of “pop-up” retail is a brilliant and cost-effective way to increase product sales but a successful “pop-up” retailer needs a venue that is well stocker, customer friendly, has catchy giveaways (T-Shirts, Hats, Washable Tattoos, etc.), is visual arousing, and has a back-up plan for the possibility of sold-out merchandise. That’s all for now, gurus! Hope that helped you become a little more centered!