What brands are using short-term spaces and how do they use them?

How brands use short-term spaces

Short-term leases are not a new idea, but what is new – is how brands are using them. Temporary leases (or pop-ups) have come a long way from their market stall origins. It’s not only small businesses and digital natives who are interested. There’s a spectrum of brands who are dipping their toes into the world of short-term leasing. Local businesses, artists, designers, musicians, and car brands are using them to engage with their audiences. They’ve become a vital marketing tool for businesses to create buzz and build loyalty. But what changed? And how are they using short-term spaces?

How has physical space changed?

In the last 10 years the way brands use physical space has changed. This is thanks to the boom of online shopping. It was thought that digital commerce would lead to the demise of physical shopping, but this is far from true. Retail remained strong by unifying online and physical channels to cater to modern shopper’s needs.

The sweet spot for keeping a business profitable and keeping connected with customers is the combination of brick and mortar and e-commerce.

Conor Flynn, CEO of Kimco

The marriage between online and physical retail has changed the norm. Many digital native brands are shying away from commitment heavy 10-year leases. Instead, they opt for flexible short-term leases. This give them the flexibility they need to test and play with locations to see what works for them. This change in the retail tenant landscape is most evident in shopping destinations. One location in Iowa even added the word “marketplace” to its name so that it would better reflect the diverse mix of their tenants. It begs the questions, what sort of brands are using short-term spaces?

Short-term spaces are getting more creative

Short-term leases are not always about sales, often the main focus is not on monetary gain. Brands use them to achieve many different goals. Whether it’s to test new concepts, try new locations, or create an engaging brand experience, pop-ups are the new killer marketing tool! We’ve seen a wide range of uses for short-term spaces by a mix of different brands.

Digital native brands

It’s not surprising to see digital native brands turn to brick-and-mortar. In fact, it’s an expectation. Customers want brands to meet them where they are. They want an omnichannel experience.

Reprise, a sustainable activewear brand, organized a pop-up to enhance its brand and boost sales. This created the opportunity for them to interact with customers and create a tangible brand experience. Customers could touch and feel products before committing to a sale. Face-to-face interactions with customers contributed to deeper connections and provided instant feedback.

Their agency found an ideal space on our marketplace, which helped Reprise meet with their customers where they were and create a memorable brand experience that helped boost sales.

Services and food products

With the rising cost of digital advertising, it makes sense for brands to promote their product or service at a physical location. In some cases, local brands have decided to start advertising their services and products in local areas to increase their brand awareness.

Promotional spaces in high-footfall areas are a guaranteed way to access larger audiences. Locations in train stations and postal offices are perfect for this. Foot traffic is in abundance, and it’s a good way to get people’s attention. Businesses can interact directly with customers and build relationships. We’ve seen a range of brands using such spaces in innovative ways. From repair service businesses, local delicatessens, and local food producers.

Through POP UP SHOPS, we’ve seen a lot of activity for brands who want high footfall areas for their service based and produce brands, most notably in postal offices.

E-commerce giants

Large e-commerce brands recognize that they need to step out from behind the screen. It’s no longer enough to be present online. Customers want the full package – they want to be able to interact with a brand on a physical and digital level.

E-commerce giant Shein has done exactly that. Despite their strong digital presence, they’ve recognized that they need to meet their customers where they are. Customers are bored of wading through pages and pages of products online. They want the chance to feel and try on items before they buy. But it’s not only that. Shopping in person is an experience, one which is impossible to replicate online. Big e-commerce brands know this, and this is why they’re turning to brick-and-mortar.

Shein we’re able to find a space in Munich that suited their needs on our marketplace. This gave them the chance to create an interactive experience with customers and increase awareness and brand loyalty.


Well-known musicians know that to build up their personal brand, it helps to create their own product labels. The label Pleasing by Harry Styles is a prime example of this. The products do not directly relate to his music. But the aesthetic and brand principles complement his music brand and personality perfectly.

At the same time of Harry Styles latest album release, his brand Pleasing ran pop-ups in Berlin and Paris. This contributed to the buzz around the album launch, and doubled up as a powerful marketing tool for his brand. It gave his fan base the chance to interact and feel closer to his brand.

One of Pleasings partner agencies reached out to POP UP SHOPS to find a location in Berlin. They found a space that suited the criteria and delivered an unforgettable brand experience to customers and fans.


Artists and Designers

Getting features into exclusive galleries can be a long process, but pop-ups give artists and designers the chance to take matters into their hands and create their own exhibitions. Short-term spaces are flexible, so they don’t have to feel tied down to a single place. They can exhibit in different towns and cities to build their brand and showcase to new audiences.

British dress designer Hermione de Paula found a space on POP UP SHOPS to host an international pop-up in New York. The pop-up was there for a limited time and required customers to pre-book consultations to discover their latest designs. This approach meant that they could create an exclusive and personalized shopping experience for their customers.

Gallery M Platform is a gallery that helps up-and-coming artists display and sell their work to the public. They held a unique pop-up event in London to showcase the work of 3 artists from around the world. With the space that they found on the POP UP SHOPS marketplace, they were able to showcase over 20 works from the artists and celebrate the vibrancy of color with audiences.

Automotive brands

Car brands popping up in shopping centers aren’t new, but there is a reason they continue to do it. Having a smaller retail space in a shopping center creates a personal and casual experience, while gaining visibility with new prospective customers. Large car showrooms are more formal and require people to go out of their way to visit, whereas popping up in shopping areas gives car brands the chance to reach audiences where they are.

These pop-ups are not about securing quick sales, instead they should pique the customer’s curiosity. Giving them the chance to drop by, ask questions, engage with the brand and hopefully sign up for a test drive. This type of shopping environment creates a relaxed atmosphere for shoppers to discover the brand – a drastic difference from the traditional dealership experience.

Polesetar used POP UP SHOPS to organize pop-ups in areas outside their fixed locations in Switzerland. Their goal was to meet new audiences where they are and build up customer relationships. This allowed them to strengthen their brand presence in Switzerland, and encourage customers to interact with their latest car models and sign up for test drives.

What will happen with short-term spaces going forward?

Short-term leases don’t show any signs of slowing in popularity. Brands will keep using flexible spaces in more nuanced ways. Pop-ups are not only for testing new locations, they’re being used as a strategic business tool to combat the increasing cost of online acquisitions. In person experiences will always be popular amongst consumers. This gives brands the ideal runway to deepen customer relationships and build brand loyalty. It’s a no-brainer that business, designers, artists, local and big brands will continue to use short-term spaces as a key component in their business strategy.


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