You’ve read up on the latest trends, received budget approval, and decided that a pop up shop tour will be a key part of your brand’s consumer marketing strategy. Step 1: DONE (congrats!)

Experiential marketing is an excellent way to develop a deeper connection with both new and existing customers. Pop-up tours allow you to take that brand experience on the road, vastly increasing the reach, engagement, and impact of your campaign. Like any large-scale marketing initiative, pop up shops require time, energy, and buy in, so it’s important to consider the following when kicking off a project:

Start planning now

From idea to execution, pop-up tours usually take 3 – 6 months to come to life (and that’s if you have the help of experienced partners and vendors). The size and scope of the tour is a key component to timeline. Other factors that impact timing include vehicle fabrication, experience development and production, stop selection, product sourcing, staffing, and promotion.

Choose the right type of pop-up vehicle

Pop-up structures come in all shapes and sizes. Vehicles can be loaned, leased or created from scratch based on available budget and intended length of use. The most popular styles include shipping containers, buses/vans, retro-fitted trailers or RVs, and custom structures.

Existing vehicles can save a lot of money upfront, but often come with large renovation budgets and ongoing maintenance costs. Custom fabrication builds allows the brand 100% control over the structure’s look, feel, finishes, and environment. If going in this direction, think about the cost of the pop-up vehicle as an investment that can be amortized over the length of the pop-up tour and beyond.

Google Chrome pop-up shop

Develop a cross-functional brand team

Like any experiential event, pop-up tours are a public representation of your brand. YMC’s most successful partners treat the pop-up as a “new store opening,” incorporating various department team members including store operations, visual, merchandising, product supply, marketing, and social. This cross-functional task force works together to align on strategy, development, and execution.

Select strategic locations

Cities, colleges, or, beach towns? When narrowing in on locations to pop up, think strategically about where your brand has a brick-and-mortar retail presence, the demographics of your target consumer, the time of year, and potentially weather impacts on your event experience.

Each type of location has a different process for contracting space, regulations around activation footprint size, and fees ranging from $500 to $10,000+ per day. Agency partners, like YMC, can help to navigate these waters based on years of experience and existing relationships with venues and colleges.

It’s also important to understand that the type of vehicle you build will impact the speed, mobility, and possible locations for the tour. Self-propelled or easily towed vehicles are the most flexible, while shipping containers are both costly and complicated to move around the country.

Design a memorable experience

The consumer experience is integral to the pop-up tour’s success. Beyond the environment inside the mobile vehicle, the outdoor event footprint needs to be designed and optimized for traffic flow, engagement, and most importantly, fun! Photo opp areas, music, food, lounge space, and DIY activities are key. Encourage user generated content by communicating a clear campaign message and utilizing on-site branding and signage with social calls-to-action and a hashtag.

Promote the pop up shop

It’s one thing to build the ultimate pop-up experience, but it’s another to promote and put a spotlight on your brand’s efforts! Build a comprehensive pre- and post-event media, promotion, and PR plan. Use this opportunity to show off what your brand team is up to by leveraging real-time social channels like Instagram Stories and Snapchat. Professional photographers and videographers are also key to capturing high quality content which can then be repurposed for future social, website, blog, or advertising needs.

Campus reps and street teams are incredibly effective at driving pre-event buzz and leveraging personal and local community networks. This on-site team also helps to drive walk by traffic to your pop-up experience on the day of the activation and engage consumers in a peer-to-peer manner.

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How can YMC help?

Looking to hit the road with a pop up shop but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

Over the past few years, pop-up shop retail has become an increasingly popular trend among brands. These short-term spaces range from seasonal markets to consumer expos to event-specific stands. Temporary pop-ups can have a big impact—building interest in a product or service, increasing customer engagement, and generating impressive sales. But how exactly does one build the perfect pop-up experience?

Let the brand shine through.

Companies put a lot of time, thought, and energy into their branding—and with good reason! Having an instantly recognizable and attractive logo is key to strengthening brand awareness and enhancing brand loyalty. Use this to your advantage when creating your pop-up shop. Take the Adidas pop-up below as an example. There’s really no question as to what this installation is, and people can easily tell from far away who is hosting the pop-up shop. Job well done, Adidas!

Set up the perfect photo opp.

Millennials are all about “doin’ it for the gram.” Fulfill this desire by incorporating a totally photo-worthy spot in your pop-up. Recent crowd-pleaser The Museum of Ice Cream has room after room of photo ops, from a giant tub of sprinkles to a banana room complete with reflective wallpaper and swings. Take note!

Make it mobile.

While certain areas will attract traffic no matter the date/time (think L.A. or Times Square), a surefire way to spread the love with your pop-up is to turn it into a tour. Whether you decide to roll through different cities, set up shop on college campuses, or travel mall-to-mall, hitting the road will bring excited customers from around the country. A great example of such a pop-up is the Aerie Mobile Tour, which hits both cities and universities throughout the fall, winter, and spring. 

Include customization + exclusive deals.

One question customers ask themselves when considering attending a pop-up is, “Why should I go out of my way to come to this when I could just drive to my local store?” The answer: exclusivity. Feature limited edition items, offer product customization, or include exclusive deals/discounts to make the experience one-of-a-kind. YSL’s 2017 Lip Showroom boasted free engraving with any purchase. Who wouldn’t want to walk away with a custom lipstick that has their name on it?!

Give people something fun to do.

Browsing for clothes, looking at art installations, and listening to speakers or panelists are all great in their own way—but they can also get monotonous. Including games and DIY activities as part of the pop-up experience provides customers with a way to relax and unwind. At Brit + Co.’s 2017 #CreateGood Pop-Up, an arcade (sponsored by Lyft) featured skeeball, pop-a-shot, Pac-Man, and prizes. Everyone walked away feeling like a winner!

Want more? Check out these blogs.

How can YMC Help?

Want to open a pop-up shop on campus but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

The rise of e-commerce retail and mobile technology has changed the way Millennial and Gen-Z consumers purchase products and services. This shift has created a double-edged sword for brands. As many purchases are happening online, brands with brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to drive in-store traffic. Whereas brands with only an online presence are lacking a physical, high-touch interaction point to establish a deeper connection with consumers.

The ability to buy online has given consumers control over where they buy products and what they pay—but the product itself is still a deciding factor. Consumers are likely to buy online from familiar, trusted brands. However, if the product or brand isn’t familiar to them, they’ll buy in person. The reason? The likelihood that an unfamiliar item will need to be returned if bought without seeing and feeling it in person outweighs the convenience of buying online.

Innovative brands like Aerie have found a solution in mobile campus tours. Designing a mobile retail store enabled them to bring a unique shopping experience directly to their target consumers. Aerie’s nationwide mobile tour created an inviting atmosphere in which students were excited to shop—and buy. Through the mobile tour, the brand saw significant increases in daily average sales and numbers of units sold. There was an average of 800 customers per campus and 80K social media impressions per week.

With those results, it’s no wonder that mobile tours are exploding in popularity across a variety of industries—particularly fashion and retail, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment. Mobile marketing, or “experiential,” tours provide a unique opportunity for college students to shop and experience a brand first-hand—trying on a shirt, tasting a treat, testing out technology.

You may be wondering, “How do I build a campus mobile tour experience that attracts college students, makes a memorable experience, and drives brand ROI?” Here are the top seven elements to consider when designing a mobile tour.


1. Vehicle Fabrication

The tour vehicle itself (airstream, mobile trailer, bus) can pop up anywhere, in a bright and bold fashion, making it hard to miss on campus. The vehicle needs to feel inviting, innovative, and comfortable to the consumer. Factors to consider include vehicle size (exterior and interior space), branding, heating/cooling, fixtures, product/item assortment, display, and design. Vehicles can be loaned, leased, or created from scratch based on available budget and intended length of use.

2. Tech

Students do not have patience for anything less than instant gratification. The mobile tour’s technology and POS system needs to be top-notch. Most locations do not have reliable WiFi, so this functionality needs to be built into the structure of the vehicle during the fabrication phase. Power and security are also two critical logistics that cannot be overlooked.

3. Location

Location, location, location. Students simply don’t deviate too far from their day-to-day path. Getting your mobile tour experience on or near campus is ideal for maximizing attendance and walk-by foot traffic.

4. Staffing

Finding the right people to run the show is a top priority. Tour staff need to be responsible, hardworking, and able to represent the brand in a professional manner. The most successful mobile tours have a combination of agency, campus rep, event, and brand team members on-site to collaborate and fill the various roles of the event.

5. Promotion

Getting the word out about the upcoming mobile tour is one of the most important actions to ensure success. Campus reps can leverage extensive on-campus and online networks to raise awareness and generate excitement among their peers. Targeted social media posts on the reps’ personal channels leading up to and during the event help catch student attention.

6. Experience

Beyond the mobile vehicle itself, creating a memorable and engaging experience is key to attracting and retaining students at the event. Elements to consider include on-brand music, unexpected snacks, DIY activities, a comfortable lounge area for relaxing, a photo wall for snapping the perfect Instagram shot—or all the above!

7. Exclusive Offer

Everyone loves a discount. Promotional offers are important to boost attendance, increase purchase consideration, and drive sales. “Doorbuster” giveaways and free items are incredibly effective at driving traffic and attracting a line of students waiting for doors to open.

Mobile marketing is a smart way for brands to reach new markets without a local retail presence. Students are always excited by the opportunity to check out a new happening or event, especially when it’s located conveniently next to their classes or apartment. When executed correctly, typically with the help of an experienced marketing agency, mobile tours will help your brand increase awareness and attract new customers.



Looking to hit the road with your brand but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!