Pop-ups are everywhere these days. It's a whole new way of interacting with consumers. Studio guest Dieter Veulemans of Citycubes tells me the ins and outs on how to open your own pop-up.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Pop-ups are everywhere these days. It's a whole new way of interacting with consumers. Studio guest Dieter Veulemans of Citycubes tells me the ins and outs on how to open your own pop-up.


Dieter, welcome to our studio.


Hi Kevin.


Today we are going to talk about pop-ups. You see them everywhere these days. How come?


It's a new hype. And everybody is looking for that new marketing style. The brands they want to interact with the customers in the street and I think pop-ups are the perfect concept to have that interaction with these consumers. It's very difficult these days to get permissions to do activations on public streets and everything. And with these pop-ups, that's kind of a solution for that problem. You can have sampling, you can have four-dimensional interactions with these guys in the pop-ups and on the street it's not possible anymore. That's why these pop-ups are a solution.


But one of the most difficult things with a pop-up is finding a location I can imagine?


Yeah, that's true. We started two years ago with City Cubes. Two years ago it was extremely difficult to find real estate people who were open for the idea of a pop-up. Everybody was thinking, oh no, a pop-up it's the start of that, are making knitwear or selling juices or something like that...


Yeah, that's the image we have.


That's the image everybody has, but that's not true. It's big brands, they start already ten years ago in London with pop-up ideas and everything, and now it's coming more and more to Belgium. And I think we are the first and also the only one in Belgium that are using pop-ups really as a professional tool, to interact with customers, and as a marketing tool. Now finding the right location, yeah it's our expertise. We have two people working for us that are, going everyday on the road looking for the right locations. They have conversations with the real estate sector to find the perfect hotspot for every brand.


If I want to start a pop-up myself what do I need to look for?


Of course the right location, but first you need to have the idea, okay, who is my target group. If you say okay we have a new cellphone from, and that our group is eighteen to twenty five years old. Then we can see on our maps, which are the good streets, where do you need to find your location. Once you have your location, yeah then it's very important to have a lot of communication around it, and you need also some permissions of the city. Every city is different and every city has other permissions that you need, but yeah we know the police codes a little bit, so we know what we need to look for.


Do you have some examples of good pop-up stories you have?


Yeah. One of the nicest pop-ups we ever did was for Tomorrowland. It was two years ago, in the Kammenstraat in Antwerp. Tomorrowland is of course a very famous festival but they also have lot of merchandise. And they wanted to expand their brand as a festival, more to a brand of Tomorrowland itself. So they had a lot of T-shirts, shoes, CD's, posters and everything, and they challenged us. They said look, this is the idea, create something cool for us. So we were looking for a very good location, because you know Tomorrowland is very famous about decorations and the small details. So the location was also very important. We couldn't go to an empty building where there is no atmosphere or anything. We found really a very, very cool location, it looked a little bit like an old library already, so that's quite cool, and then we could do everything over there. From the staff, to the decoration to the whole package, and I think we existed then just for one year. We had Tomorrowland as a client, and that was one of the most coolest pop-ups we ever did.


I can imagine. Yeah. But even simpler examples are also possible?


Yeah, of course. We are working these days for the Gazet van Antwerpen.


It's a Belgian newspaper.


It's a Belgian newspaper indeed. They exist for one hundred twenty five years, so they have a little bit of an anniversary party. So we organized for them a very cool bar, in the center of Antwerp. We already had TEDx Talks, we already have cabaretiers, already have performances of well-known Antwerp performers. And yeah it's an open space, where everybody is welcome and where the newspaper can interact with their customers and talk a little bit about, okay, what do you think about our newspaper? What do you like more, how do you see, how we can evolve to something cooler?


And how do you get people into your pop-up store? Because, going to sit and wait there?


No, doesn't work. Location is key of course. So you need a lot of passers, passersby, and a lot of communication. You need to talk to the local newspapers. You need to have something on the social media. And of course you need to have people on the street also. We are working with a lot of hostesses of course, who go to the people and talk a little bit: are you interested, then come by. But sometimes we also use the iPad robots, I don't know if you know it?




It's a very cool thing, in fact it's a Segway with an iPad on it, and there's somebody in the pop-up who is driving with it, and he can go with a iPad robot on the streets and talk with the people on the street like a robot.




People think what the hell is this and they follow it. And they go inside and then they have a little bit of experience, and you need to find new things to convince people to come with you to the pop-up. Because, when you walk on the Meir I think there are twenty people talking to you to 'sign this' or 'can you give some money for this or that'. So you need to look for new creative impulses, and that's our specialty.


And what do brands find of the result of such pop-ups?


They love it. And that's something cool. We have these tools that you can see how many people enter, and how do people move in a pop-up. So if you have like four products in your pop-up, we have some sensors above it. So we can measure how long people stand over there, and then they can see okay, which product is the most popular. So we can move that product more over there, or we can do some action with that on the internet or something like that. But I think every pop-up we did already had very good results. And the proof is there that like Mobile Vikings, which we started in Antwerp, they were very happy. We went to Gent, to Ostend, now we are in Leuven and there are other brands also asking for more, and more, more locations all around Belgium. It started in Antwerp, because Antwerp is a very good city. Because they have the Meir, and the Meir is the third street where most people pass by in Europe. It's a good test, and then they see okay these are good results. We have a lot of extra likes on the internet or extra passerby so they move to other cities and it works.


We are now talking about Belgium, but how does it go in the rest of the world? Do you see the same trends?


Yeah, we have a very good partner in The Netherlands. But The Netherlands is s totally different country. Amsterdam you also have this big retail streets, but in the other cities it's difficult. Because a lot of the big shops over there, they are all outside the cities. People really have a destination to go over there, and there are not so many big shops in the center of the cities, except for Amsterdam. Retail is something extremely complicated and every country has a different view about retail. Belgium is a very good country for retail. Europe it's difficult, but our plans are to go to Dubai. We went six months ago to Dubai, to have a look over there, and if you know the malls in Dubai, then you know there's a lot of possibilities over there. People want experiences. And we're never going to call it a pop-up in Dubai, because then they laugh at us. Pop-up is not cool in Dubai. But the retail experience is very important over there. And the technology that we are making here in Belgium is something that they are jealous on over there. And that's something we want to expand over there.


Okay Dieter, thank you very much for coming over.


Thank you very much for your time.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.