Pop-Up Trends 2016

December 11, 2015

The Halo Group is proud to represent a range of clients at the forefront of pop-up culture in London and the UK. This weeks blog takes a look at some of our trend predictions for the 2016 pop-up market.

The phrase pop-up has become widely used, especially in metropolitan cities such as London in recent years. Some people might even say the phrase is over used, but we don’t share this feeling here at THG. For us you only have to look at the pop-up market to fully appreciate how this phenomenon has enriched our lives. The market comes in many different guises, including retail, food, bars, cinemas, cultural experiences, brand activations and more.



Hot Tub Cinema - 20 August 2014 / London. Picture credit: Tolga Akmen


This got us thinking why the concept is so popular. If we look at our own business, the surge in street food pop-ups for example came from the US off the back of the recession. In times of financial hardship, pop-ups represented a more affordable option for many. Cheaper rents certainly appealed to the traders, whilst more cost effective street food menus appealed to the consumer. For us, we saw a direct correlation between the two. They also represented a great way to explore world cuisine in a easily accessible format.

Moving forward to 2015, separate reports by the Telegraph and communication giant EE predicted a third of new businesses launching in the UK in 2015 would be pop-ups (30% of which would be street food outlets). This is certainly a trend we can support through our own client projects. In 2015 The Halo Group has designed and built a wide range of installations within this field and they seem to be more poplar than ever.

To understand whats driving this trend, I think the success stories simply cannot be ignored. Innocent, the smoothie company for example started life as a pop-up at festivals and now look at the brand. Similarly, burger chain Meatliquor started off as a simple van and is reported to be worth £20M today, so from a commercial point of view clearly it makes sense.


If this growth is to be maintained and the trend is to continue, how will the market avoid becoming over saturated? Successful ventures today are striving to evolve to meet the ever increasing expectation of the consumer in an over crowed market place. This is personified through organisers investing more and more in creative production. Creating unique experiences and immersive environments is the key to staying aheads of the pack.

Take one of our clients’ Night Tales for example. Their passion for creative production coupled with their food and drink credentials has positioned their brand at the very forefront of of pop-up culture in London. We’ve been working with the company behind the concept, Background Bars for 4 years now and each year their deliveries evolve, raising the bar higher and higher. In 2015 we activated twice for the client, firstly with their Summer Tales project and secondly on their current project Tokyo Nights. Two distinctly different creative directions were developed by The Halo Group, the former being a jungle theme and the latter a homage to Tokyo. Each was equally as impactful and the high level of production and creativity employed across the project is the key to meeting the ever increasing consumer demand. We predict that successful pop-ups will continue this trend in 2016 to provide ever more impressive, quirky or unique experiences.




Of course pop-up trends are certainly not limited to street food. Cinema is another big trend we are predicting will continue to grow. We currently represent two clients who do this brilliantly, Backyard Cinema and Underground Film Club.

The former is currently featuring at Winterville in Victoria park and features a creative production installation by The Halo Group. Here we created an immersive Winter Night Garden set build for the client which was inspired by Narnia with a twist. Guest enter the cinema through a wardrobe, stepping through the fur coats and ever-green foliage before discovering an enchanted woodland themed tunnel complete with shimmering lighting, silver detail, twisted wood and foliage detailing. The tunnel leads into the cinema room, which was also styled by The Halo Group. Here guests can relax and watch their favourite movies on giant bean bags set against the back drop of a magical indoor forest.






The latter, Underground Film Club has employed a completely different technique by installing a 9 hole crazy golf course designed and built by The Halo Group in the Waterloo Vaults as well as a large capacity purpose built cinema, bar and street food traders. Again, the recurring theme is creativity. Few would pair a crazy golf course with a trip to the movies, but in practice it’s a marriage made in heaven as the space offers multiple leisure attractions, thus ensuring this pop-up stands out from the crowd. As with the street food examples, pop-up cinemas are following suit by creating unique experiences to meet consumer demand. We predict pop-up cinemas that have a distinct point of difference will continue to be a growing trend in 2016 so expect even more unusual locations, features and twists on the horizon.





Pop-Up dining clubs have been another popular feature on the events landscape in recent years with organisers choosing unconventional settings to host events such as in the image below at Underground Supper Club.


Our prediction for 2016 is more and more of these pop-up dinning clubs will become permanent restaurants and bars.It’s something thats been happening for a while now but we think it will continue. An example of this trend can be found in one of our current clients, Jimmy Garcia. Jimmy’s Pop-Up has become well known in foodie circles for taking over interesting spaces and transforming them into 1st class dinning clubs. His recent self styled project at the Clapham Lodge has now gained so much popularity it has become a permanent restaurant. Jimmy’s passion for creating exciting menus matched with inventive well produced set builds is what sets his ventures apart from the crowd. We expect to see more and more of the most popular dinning clubs set up a permanent or semi permanent home in the coming months as this trend continues.


Little Nan’s Bar in Deptford is a brilliant and quirky example of a recent multi-award winning pop-up. This travelling bar by Tristan Scutt was born after his grandmother passed away five years ago. He took all of the decorations, ornaments, light fixtures and retro bric-a-brac she left behind to create the set for the bar. This represents a great example of how organisers again are seeking to create ever more unique environments to push the boundaries. This is close to our hearts here at Halo. As a creative agency and production company we love this bar and concept and feel the ethos behind its’ creation is going to be another strong trend in 2016. No longer is an interesting location enough to stand out, you also need a unique selling point and Little Nan’s bar hits the nail firmly on the head.




So what about retail? Another report by EE revealed the UK retail pop-up sector is worth £2.3B to the UK economy.Pop-Up retail spaces are not a new trend but some are pushing the boundaries. In December 2015 The Poundshop launched a special shop at Somerset House entitled The Garage Sale, where designers are able to sell stock from past seasons, prototypes, work in progress and samples. The Garage Sale brings these products from many designers into one specially curated space designed by BAT STUDIO. Customers can get their hands on items that are not available in any shop. We predict this highly stylised approach to pop-up retail will continue to be a hot trend in 2016 as brands look to gain leverage in the market.

The final trend we predict will continue to grow significantly in 2016 is experiential pop-up activations by brands. The rise of experiential marketing is an interesting story. Brands are increasingly investing in this area more and more. Creating immersive experiences is something that is championed in todays marketing world as this activity is proven to create stronger, more meaningful relationships between the brand and the consumer. ROI can be measured easily through the use of interactive technology, so brands can gain instant feedback on their products. Experiential activations can deliver this quicker than other forms of marketing. Furthermore, mobile technology has become the norm and is no longer discussed as the future and as such a majority of people in todays market have the ability to interact with brands through their mobile devices such as social sharing and amplification. All of this activity can generate valuable analytics in real time. Other cutting edge technologies such as Augmented Reality can also unlock further potential. All of this adds up to the continued trend for brands to create experiential activations and this is perfectly personified by The House Of Vans activation in the Waterloo Vaults a short while ago.




So there you have it. The bubble is far from being burst for us, so watch this space for more exciting pop-up projects from The Halo Group and many other industry pioneers in 2016 and beyond.

We hope you have enjoyed this weeks blog, don’t forget you can find our more about these and many other projects on our agency website http://www.thehalogroup.co.uk

Happy Christmas from the Halo team xxx








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