They waited steadfastly in queues overnight; some in inclement weather for 13 hours or more. Lines stretched for blocks, in many cases miles, and this wasn’t just happening in a single location. Across the globe, in 21 different cities, people simultaneously flocked. It sounds like whatever these people were waiting for was life-changing, perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity, a massive sale, a chance to meet a celebrity or possess something exclusive. Not really. They wanted Kanye West apparel from one of his synchronously deployed, and very temporary, pop up shops.
The Making of a Pop-Up Marketing Phenomena
One of the latest trends for stars is to use pop up shops to boost revenue and increase awareness for a tour or new album. Many have jumped into it, including Drake, Justin Bieber, and of course, Kanye. Most of the time, these pop up shops appear just before a concert is scheduled in a city, but Kanye’s marketing scheme is totally different than what any of the others are doing. He’s been testing the waters with individual pop up shops, deployed seemingly at random. One of his latest, a short-term boutique opened in Los Angeles, reportedly netted the singer a cool $1million in under 24 hours. While local sales are great, the team had something more in mind; leveraging social media and the global market to create a storm like the world had never seen before.
How Kanye Leveraged Social Media
Initial mentions of the event provided minimal information. Even up until the day before the event, many locations still did not have their hours posted. This scarcity of information helped build up social media chatter, with fans speculating about the details. We used Google Trends to check out some pertinent Kanye stats.
The number of people searching for “Kanye West” on Google mostly stays steady, with peaks as new albums or singles are released. Over the past five years, interest about Kanye has waxed and waned, but it soared to twice its prior record early in 2016, just as his latest album, “The Life of Pablo” came out. It jumped again when his single “Famous” was released, but then it dropped down again, until the pop ups opened.
Further digging uncovers what’s happening here, with interest in Kanye. Simply by typing his name into Twitter, pop up shops come out in second place, right below his name.
This viral coverage carries over to Google as well. As of the time
this post was written, 2,470,000 results appear in Google for people
looking up information about Kanye’s stores.
Whatsmore, the viral juju rubs off on his single as well. As interest in his stores increases, searches about his recent single climb, too, to the tune of 120%.
Planning a Cohesive Global Strategy on Social Media
As the pop up shops launched, Kanye took to Twitter. He posted a link to his site which contains a map of all the stores that were opening for a three-day period. We checked it as the shops were closing near the end of the third day. That particular Tweet had 15k shares and 29k likes. Not bad for visibility, but his marketing team came up with something better on the last day the stores were open. Each store was designed the same, with the name of the city etched in black calligraphy on a white background. Kanye’s team took a photo of this backdrop from each store and posted it to Twitter; 21 posts in all. We grabbed the stats seven hours after the posts went live.
As we can see the tweets targeting local areas annihilated the already viral post covering shops across the globe.
How to Duplicate Kanye’s Results with Your Pop Up Shop
In reality, Kanye has an amazing marketing and PR team, perhaps the best that money can buy. The team knew the tricks that would lead to operating a winning temporary store.
1. Cross-platform information trickle
Kanye’s personal social media accounts gave info, as did Def Jam and its accounts.
2.Scarcity of information
The lack of info available got chattering on social media and kept them talking the whole time.
3. Short Duration
The shops were open for just three days, to create a rush to buy.
4.Scarcity of product availability
People could only purchase three of one item.
Each store had a limit on the number of people who could be inside at one time, ensuring the lines would remain heavy and those who got in would boast about gaining access.
In addition to the limits on purchases and how many people could be in at once, the shops had bizarre rules, such as not allowing patrons to pick up merchandise, let alone try it on. Shoppers received a list of what was available on the store’s few racks before entering so they could place their orders at the counter quickly. Layouts inside offered two mirror-image walkways and patrons were not permitted to leave their side of the store. If the excitement over Kanye apparel didn’t get the media talking, the bizarre rules certainly would.
7.Local and global social media coverage.
Kanye’s team nailed it by unleashing this beast all at once, which is important when you have a global audience. In this day and age, almost all businesses have a global audience. Even still, they made sure to promote at a local level via social media as well, adding to the exclusivity of it. Cities were incorporated in the apparel as well as the décor inside the store. People shared those posts because it was city-related. Our Google results showed that the individual cities started trending and Kanye’s global audience shifted. Prior to the stores opening, the US didn’t even rank in the top five countries running Google Searches for Kanye. It’s no coincidence that the US jumped to second place in the last 30 days, with more than half the shops opening there.
The Power of Social Media
We don’t know just how successful these shops were in terms of the revenue they brought in, but Kanye could have easily earned $20 million or more in three days. And while his use of global social media campaigns absolutely contributed to the success of the stores, it did something perhaps even more valuable. Social media and the pop up shops raised awareness for his personal brand as well as for his music. If you think back to how searches for Kanye towered during the release of his most recent album and prior albums changed, it’s clear the latest albums blew the others away. Not surprisingly, this is exactly when his marketing and PR teams started running pop up shops and stealthy global social media campaigns at the same time.
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