Bang & Olufsen In-Depth Interview with John McCullough on B&O, Retail, and Launching Pop Up Shops
Pop up shops are, by their very nature, temporary. It’s easy to think that companies who utilize them are short-term as well, though nothing could be farther from the truth. Today’s pop up shops are often crafted by iconic, timeless brands, oozing instant appeal. One such company is Bang & Olufsen, the audio company that’s well-known for putting design, craftsmanship, and experience above all else.
Though forged in a rural area of Denmark in 1925, their exquisite pieces can be found across the globe nowadays. A few of their items have even found a permanent home in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Dubliners are likely more familiar with the prominent Donnybrook Bang & Olufsen showroom, a fixture on Main Street since 2003. Surprising consumers, the brand also launched a pop up shop for the 2015 holiday season, soothing the ears (and eyes) of those near St. Stephen’s Green.
John McCullough, Director of Business Development, was kind enough to grant Popertee an interview, and provide us with some insights on their strategies.
With a strong education and background in business, Mr. McCullough joined the experts at Bang & Olufsen earlier this year, bringing a fresh prospective and adding new ideas to the company’s already impressive portfolio.
Bang & Olufsen Took a “Go Big or Go Home” Approach to Choosing the Dublin Pop Up Shop Location
Dublin was an obvious choice for Bang & Olufsen’s new pop up shop, as Irish consumers are already familiar (and in love with) the brand, and the existing Dublin location is popular. In fact, the Donnybrook showroom was number-one in the world in 2006. As shoppers hurry from place to place throughout the holiday season, their feet naturally fall in the active capital, which meant that if Bang & Olufsen wanted to take advantage of the existing traffic, the pop up shop needed to be near the city centre.
Finding the right location wasn’t easy, though.
They began researching locations in early September, and then reached out to several of the capital’s top real estate agents. Ultimately, one well-known agency procured the largest available space they had seen in Dublin, and it suited the pop up shop’s needs perfectly. They signed on a temporary lease, giving them access to primo territory until the end of January 2016- a perfect timeline to cover the holiday season.
The St. Stephen’s Green Pop Up Shop Signals a Change in the Economy and in Bang & Olufsen’s Marketing
Bang & Olufsen has traditionally created products designed for an elite, select few. Their attention to detail and decision to focus quality, versus appeasing the masses, has left them with a modest, but incredibly loyal consumer base. People tend to purchase Bang & Olufsen products because they intend to hold onto them for years, if not a lifetime, versus the “throwaway” mentality many technology producers cultivate when they mass produce electronics.
However, as the economy shifted, the younger generation has become increasingly aware of high-quality pieces. Millennials, in particular, are becoming known for their desire own just a few premium products, rather than grabbing a bit of everything that can be purchased cheaply.
With this in mind, the BeoPlay A2 is favoured by a wide audience, and so it was selected to be the centrepiece of the St. Stephen’s Green pop up shop.
The BeoPlay A2 wraps up the superior sound and performance that B&O is known for, into an ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker. It captivates with a sleek and modern flat design, plus delivers true 360-degree sound and boasts a fantastic 24-hour battery life.
Even though the BeoPlay A2 has simple, clean lines, the technology inside it is anything but. It’s built for performance and can remember up to eight different users, which makes it easy for a family or group to share. According to McCullough, it’s the most-popular item in the holiday pop up shop, but he also notes that their headphones have been doing quite well, too. The BeoPlay H8, in particular, is incredibly divine. The on-ear Bluetooth headphones deliver premium sound, cancel out background noise, and are simple to operate, with on-board gesture controls at your fingertips.
Mr. McCullough Spoke Candidly Challenges of Opening a Pop Up Shop, and Also Explained What Makes it All Worthwhile
As one would expect with a large company like B&O, coordinating schedules and preparing for a successful launch, with products on display, was a big challenge. The Dublin weather seems to have been conspiring against all retailers in city centre this year, further complicating matters, but Mr. McCullough adds, “We have ensured that our music is booming from the front of the showroom to attract people into the dry store inside!”
Giving people the opportunity to experience B&O products has been one of the most rewarding things about opening the pop up shop. “The highlight has definitely been welcoming new customers into our St. Stephen’s Green showroom who may have thought the brand was out of reach or who may not have come across B&O products,” Mr. McCullough said.
With the BeoPlay A2 going for a fraction of the price that their products typically command, it has certainly opened up doors for more people to become B&O loyalists. Mr. McCullough also gives credit to the product line-up, and explains, “Having such an exciting range to display makes the job very easy once people walk through the door.”
Aside from the products mentioned earlier, the company recently launched BeoLink Multiroom. It’s a fully-integrated system that enables people to control music anywhere in the home with a single touch. Partnering with companies like Lurton lighting, the same system can also control a home’s lights, blinds, cameras, and security system in one panel.
Considering Opening a Pop Up Shop? We Got Some Tips From Our Pro, Too!
We asked Mr. McCullough what advice he has for others who are considering opening a pop up shop. His own words are pure gold:
“From this experience, if looking to pop up, it is important to ensure you have the correct location for your brand, you need to promote the business space and also keep track of visitors through the door. It is a pop up, so we always need to ensure we are engaging with potential and existing customers after we leave the location. We need to make sure that customers come visit us in our Donnybrook store long after we are gone from our 12 St. Stephen’s Green location.”
Interestingly, this last point is one that has not been made by any of the pros we’ve researched or interviewed so far, so tuck that away and generate a plan to create long-term relationships with your customers, even though your pop up shop is a short-term venture.
We also asked Mr. McCullough what he thought of the Popertee model.
“I think it is a very clever way of engaging with businesses like ourselves tempted to branch out temporarily,” he responded. “The business model ensures that it becomes a hassle-free to seek out another location, saving the company time in researching locations and prices.”
If you have a commercial property you’d like to temporarily lease, drop us a line at [email protected]. Even though we don’t officially launch until the next year, people are already contacting us for venues. Let’s get connected!