The Ultimate Luxury Pop-Up Shop: Chanel Meets Aspen

Luxury brand Chanel launched its first state-side pop-up shop this July, in Aspen, Colorado. Karl Lagerfeld showed his distinctively western-style Métiers d’Art Paris-Dallas collection in Dallas, Texas, last December – and now the collection has appeared, publicly showcased in a small modern boutique above the Casa Tua restaurant and club. And just my luck, I happened to be in town the last night the pop-up was open! Giddy. I was on a mission to track it down and that I did.

Without a doubt, this collection felt right at home in Aspen as it did in Dallas. It’s completely over-the-top western Americana, with stars, fringe, holsters (for your Chanel No. 5, of course), belt buckles and boots. The large wood-clad room over the Casa Tua captured the thematic and served as the perfect setting for such glamor. Feather-capped mannequins and the classic Chanel logo in Neon centered around a large fireplace anchored the room. Around the edges, individual pieces from the collection hung and yes, I was tempted to try on the furry/feathered long-sleeve bolero jacket, but at $6,250, I admired it from the hanger. I left only with a well-designed, gilded-edge lookbook, featuring Kristen Stewart as Lagerfield’s muse for this collection, so my designer heart was happy without a hit to my pocketbook.

While I am confident that Chanel sold quite well in Aspen over the 10 days it was there, the pop-up shop is more about exposing your brand in a new light, to a new audience and breaking out of your brand boundaries for a precious limited time, which Chanel did on some levels, albeit somewhat safely in the affluence that is Aspen proper. The next day, I walked by just to see if there was anything left, and it was as if it had been only a dream. A brilliant French dream in the middle of the Colorado mountains. I look forward to seeing where the next one pops up.

Photo credits: Allison Emery

The Retail Update: New York City

I’m not a native New Yorker nor have I been living in this city for a very long time.  I still gawk at tall buildings and think “street-cart hot dogs” are an acceptable snack.  As a marketer, I also get excited every time I stumble upon a staged PR or experiental marketing experience.  But as a shopper marketer, it’s the numerous retail flagships, pop-up stores, and cutting edge boutiques that NYC attracts that make this a fascinating place to live and work.  This past weekend, while walking around near the Flat Iron district, I stumbled upon two shops that caught my attention.  Check out the photos and summary below.

The Nomad: Wondering Fashion Boutique (www.thenomadtruck.com).  Mobile retail, but in the physical, not digital sense.  While the idea of “mobile commerce” isn’t new, this example was done very well.  Much like the food truck movement, The Nomad relied heavily on social media to update followers with schedules and location details (follow @thenomadtruck).  I also can’t help but point out that the other kind of “mobile commerce” has enabled the growth of this type of retail model.  Mobile commerce apps such as Square have made it easier for pop-up stores to get economic scale by moving beyond “cash only” transactions.

Divine Details: A shop for the [extra]ordinary (www.facebook.com/divinedetailsshop).  I found this space really interesting.  Billed as part art gallery, part pop-up store, Divine Details celebrated the art of design with functional, minimalistic products for the everyday (think MoMa Design Store www.momastore.org).  This was also every copy-writers dream with each item displayed accompanied by an eloquent back-story that would make J. Peterman proud.  Every item was also available for sale-just flag one of the associates walking through the gallery with tablets to order.  In the photos below you will also notice the lone “branded” product-a cup of Chobani yogurt.  This gallery was sponsored in part by Chobani.  An interesting tie-in by the Chobani brand, who clearly wants to be viewed as a design focused company.

Seen something cool in the retail world in NYC or elsewhere?  Leave a tip in the comments section and let us know.

JSE

What Does a Yawn Get You These Days?

A cup of coffee. Yes, a yawn can “buy” you a cup of coffee. A campaign from Dutch coffee company Douwe Egberts uses a gussied-up coffee vending machine with facial recognition software to dole out free cups of coffee to weary airport travelers in need of a pick-me-up, all for the cost of a yawn. Called “Bye Bye Red Eye,” the campaign served coffee to more than 210 airport passengers.

I love this. It seems like a simple match of technology and creativity put to use in a way that’s a perfect fit. People who are tired often drink coffee. People who are tired often yawn. Bam! An engaging platform is born to get people talking about their coffee.

Facial recognition, or recognition technology in general, as currency mixed with a vending machine with a seems like it could apply to a variety of brands. Smile for a Hershey’s bar or a Pepsi. Roll or smack your lips for a Chapstick. Sneeze for a box of Kleenex. Granted, this would be a promotional spin on these items as brands can’t pay the bills with smiles or kisses, but it would be fun nonetheless.

Watch the video without yawning. I dare you.

Image Credits: YouTube, DouweEgbertsSA, Getty

Could Facebook Autoplay Ads Be Tipping Point?

It’s no secret that Facebook has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the past five years while at the same time trying to find a way to monetize that audience and bring in revenue to justify the (continually falling) stock price. Their latest attempt at harnessing the user base will be ads running on either side of your new feed, to launch early next year. Where observers are predicting the downfall of this idea is in the way Facebook wants to implement those ads: as autoplay video commercials that will launch automatically once you load the page:

In what’s sure to be a controversial move, the visual component of the Facebook video ads will start playing automatically — a dynamic known as “autoplay” — according to two of the executives. Facebook is still debating whether to have the audio component of the ads activated automatically as well, one of these people said.

On the desktop version of Facebook, the video ads are expected to grab a user’s attention by expanding out of the news feed into webpage real estate in both the left and right columns — or rails — of the screen. Facebook is also working on a way to ensure that the video ads stand out on the mobile apps as well, though it is unclear how exactly the company will accomplish this. (Some details about the video-ad plans remain vague and could change as Facebook gets more feedback from clients.)

Advertisers will be able to shows their video ads to desktop users of Facebook, but Facebook has been highlighting the mobile versions of the product in meetings with ad agencies, demonstrating the product on both tablets and mobile phones. Advertisers will be able to show the same video ad to a Facebook user up to three times a day across various devices, two of the executives said.

All of the executives interviewed view the new video ad product as a blatant attempt on Facebook’s part to wrest big ad dollars from TV budgets. Ad agencies have plenty of TV spots and increasingly want to extend their reach on the web. But TV-like inventory on the web is scarce, which is why ad rates at places such as Hulu are so high.

I can’t see this as a good idea. It’s even possible that Facebook has leaked this info themselves as a trial balloon. Alienating the base that is starting to leave your service anyway is not a way to inspire brand loyalty for those who might purchase ads. And advertisers should think twice about what the cost of unexpected consequences will be for their brands if they do hand this audience such an intrusive experience.

Go check out AdAge for the rest of the story.

Peapod reimagines itself again…and again

As you can imagine, I have a fascination with anything that takes retail into fresh new territories. One company I’ve always admired is Peapod. The online grocery delivery service reimagined retail with its debut in 1989 – way back in the day, when modems were newfangled devices and AOL was the craze. They weren’t the first to offer the service – but they’re the one that has lasted by understanding that the business isn’t solely about convenience, but also hinges on “quality fulfillment” and “customer service”. Nothing’s “convenient” if you get blotchy produce delivered late. Peapod got it right about what customers really wanted and needed right from the start.
Recently, they’ve again reimagined retail – twice. This spring Peapod set up an interactive grocery store in the tunnel of Chicago’s State & Lake “L” station. Commuters shopped using their smartphones to scan products pictured on shelves in train station posters. Purchases were delivered the next day. Peapod wasn’t the first with the idea, but I suspect that, once again, they’ll be the ones to make it an ongoing and viable offering by truly meeting shoppers’ desires. (Tesco pioneered the concept last year in subway stations in Seoul, South Korea.)
 
In early October, the program returned, expanded to 17 Chicago train stations and, now, also offers 30 items from area restaurants and hometown brands, such as Lou Malnati’s pizza, Garrett’s Popcorn and Eli’s cheesecake. The program was also introduced in Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington.
Next, in a fresh feat of re-imagination, the company that is synonymous with home delivery, has opened a pick-up store – Peapod Pick-Up – in a Chicago suburb and plans to open another in December. Customers order online, then come during an assigned time window to pick up their groceries. A Peapod associate puts the groceries right in your car. No schlepping required until you unload at home.
This is the kind of change and re-imagination that keeps retail so exciting for me. I’m inspired by their nimble approach and curious to see what future reinventions Peapod has growing on the vine.