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How Gen Z designers envision future pop-up stores

Pop-up stores have become a key strategic weapon of brands in an era when consumers are adopting an omnichannel approach to shopping.

Five Star Plus Retail Design in Shanghai gathered a group of Generation Z designers and asked them to interpret their vision for the future of pop-up stores, and how they perceive their impact on brands and engage customers.

By nature, pop-ups are highly concentrated on branding, best achieved by creative designs. 

Since pop-up stores mainly focus more on the products, the designs tend to use strong theming centered on the product line itself. Considering the vision of Gen Z shoppers, the ideal pop-up stores in the future will need to create a strong, attention-grabbing statement that will attract them into the store. It is also important to make every corner of the store photo and video friendly for Gen Z guests to be able to capture and share their experience on-line with friends and followers.

Creative design techniques

Our GenZ representatives pictured one possible direction for ideal pop-up stores where the general design is eccentric incorporating art elements. The store itself is a photo background which can be achieved by playing with different colour combinations, and by making the design look a bit surreal and changeable. Gen Z customers need to be surprised in order to catch their attention. Bold colours, dynamic LED lighting, combined with interesting materials and textures play a big role in achieving an eccentric pop-up store design style. The store design can also have a bit of a mysterious look from the outside which will likely grab attention and pull customers inside.

Another idea the Gen Z representatives came up with was a pop-up store design that has many different themes that slightly connect through different elements. These ideas are definitely opposite of boring, however it is important for brands to remember that designs need to be cohesive and not overstimulate customers. If the design style is too busy, it will take away from the strategic goal of branding and highlighting the new products.

Unique examples for future pop-up stores

The first example of the future pop-up store is a space-and-stars themed concept. Here the products are hanging from the ceiling just as if they are floating in the sky with shooting stars, while the walls, floor and ceiling are painted black. As a decorative and surprising element, an astronaut is carried around the store by balloons of planets. The atmosphere is mysterious yet elegant.

The second idea is an underground pop-up store design concept. With the aim of making the store more hidden or mysterious, the location is moved underground. Customers can enter the store from above by stairs or descend using elevators. Customers are already able to see the pop-up store before entry through its glass ceiling. The ceiling may feature light graffiti. To make it more personalised, the graffiti has the feature to change shape and colour. The floor is painted with black with white paint spots and the whole atmosphere has an artsy, exhibition-like vibe.

THe future direction for brands

The creative works of our Gen Z representatives showed us that their vision was completely in line with the direction the retail design industry is heading towards. 

Even though they are considered to be digital natives, brands tend to forget that Gen Z prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. Their decision making during shopping is already quite impulsive when it comes to choosing to enter a store, restaurant or pop-up store. Their preferred choice will always be the one that fulfills their needs for technology, unique experience, and creative design. Retailers have to keep in mind that this generation that already holds $44 billion in buying power and has a strong opinion. They want to be amazed and have high expectations when it comes to design.

  • Samantha Chalmers is client manager at 5 Star Plus Retail Design in Shanghai.

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