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Couture to cuisine: Why luxury brands are jumping on the F&B pop-up trend

Luxury brand Gucci recently decided to create a pop-up store in Singapore. Promoting it on Facebook, the Kering Group owned brand launched the pop-up store in Singapore along the Old Parliament Lane. The restaurant, called Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, will follow the concept in Italy and will take place at The Arts House until 2 June 2019.

Gucci isn’t the only brand to have made a move into the F&B space. Last year, Tiffany & Co. brought Breakfast at Tiffany’s to life through a partnership with Tiong Bahru Bakery. The jeweller set up a booth outside ION Orchard, giving out free coffee and croissants and visitors were encouraged to post a picture of the coffee cart with hashtags such as #tiffanypaperflowers and #tiongbahrubakery.Globally, brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren have also taken similar steps.

On the automotive side, Land Rover and Jaguar took a similar strategy with the former partnering local cafes such as Strangers’ Reunion and EGG STOP to bring breakfast to the Central Business District. Meanwhile, Jaguar Singapore tied up with French fine-dining establishment Restaurant JAG to provide “heightened culinary experience” for its customers.

While more and more luxury brands are exploring new avenues to connect with customers, Marketing spoke to industry professionals on the shift in execution. According to APAC Global Advisory (AGA)’s founder and chief change catalyst, Wong Mei Wai, brands see the need to resort to such pop up initiative as consumers today want deeper and more innovative brand experiences.

“The new generation of consumers have a universal passion for food photography, providing brands an alternative way to connect and entice new consumers to re-appraise the brands or to reward loyal customers,” Wong said. She added that pop-ups drive publicity and awareness, while also creating “instagrammable content” for social media and videos.

Richa Kapse, head of shopper marketing, Grey Singapore said in such pop-ups, all that matters is that it sits at the intersection of pop culture and the philosophy of the brand.

“That’s why the Roller Liner Diner, a pop-up store for the launch of Benefit Cosmetics’ new range of mascara and eyeliners is distinctly different from when Gucci sets up a pop-up restaurant and yet they both were striving to achieve brand experience,” she added.

According to Kapse, pop-ups, by nature have a sense of urgency, as it can be conceptualised and executed quickly. She added that pop-ups make economic sense as well to re-invigorate retail fatigued shoppers, and bring newness to the conversation. It also extends conversations beyond transactions, Kapse said, adding that this was something offline and online stores are “bogged down by”.

Another blow to traditional advertising?

AGA’s Wong said luxury brands that used to focus on advertising and events are now redeploying funds for “interesting” pop-up drives. “Consumers prefer this as it invites you to attend rather than advertising via chest-thumping about how elegant or superior the brand or products are,” she added.

While this form of advertising and marketing can raise brand awareness and ramp up its consumer base, Wong said congruency of the brands has to be considered. “The overall brand experience needs to elevated and make the brand bigger yet relevant to the target audience. If it is an effective partnership or execution, the target audience will be able to then journey into the awareness, consideration and purchase of the brand eventually,” she added.

As such, the business objective behind the execution has to link closely with the marketing objectives. “Ideally depending on the brand and the stage of the brand it would be to generate sales in short to mid-term. Initially it could be about awareness and creating brand buzz, reach, talkability and PR,” Wong said.

As it gets easy to be carried away with the “seemingly creative freedom” afforded to pop ups, Kapse said the biggest challenge is to relate it back to the product while exploring the creative universe of the brand.

“Every business knows its immediate goals, whether its building excitement around a new product or building newness around an existing one. These are spaces that would help to extend the conversation, build brand or product awareness, help to make a heritage brand relevant or simply give consumers delicious Instagram moments,” she said.

Whatever the goals are, often the business objective is that an experiential pop up is not necessarily just for sales.

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