How re­tail giants seized on pop-ups to woo mil­len­ni­als

The Barrie Examiner - - BUSINESS - CLAU­DIA CAT­TA­NEO FI­NAN­CIAL POST Cal­gary mayor Na­heed Nen­shi speaks to me­dia in Cal­gary on Fri­day. A new Main­stream Re­search/Post­media poll re­leased Fri­day, shows Nen­shi trail­ing new­comer Bill Smith in the may­oral elec­tion. ALEK­SAN­DRA SAGAN THE CANA­DIAN PR

Three years af­ter ce­ment­ing his rock star sta­tus by be­ing hon­oured as the world’s top mayor, Cal­gary’s Na­heed Nen­shi is at risk of los­ing his job in next week’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, po­ten­tially pre­sag­ing the be­gin­ning of the end of Al­berta’s fling with pro­gres­sive politi­cians.

Cal­gar­i­ans are in a foul mood. Their city is strug­gling with high un­em­ploy­ment, heaps of va­cant down­town of­fice space due to oil­patch lay­offs that has pushed the mu­nic­i­pal tax bur­den to re­main­ing busi­nesses, and a string of dev­as­tat­ing en­ergy project can­cel­la­tions that are lim­it­ing fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties — in­clud­ing the En­ergy East pipe­line last week.

They’ve had it with anti-busi­ness gov­ern­ments, and Nen­shi just hap­pens to be the first politi­cian up for re-elec­tion. He’s seen as run­ning a fat and in­ef­fi­cient city hall that, like its se­nior gov­ern­ment coun­ter­parts, raises taxes and spends with­out re­straint. The big ideas and high ideals Nen­shi — the first Mus­lim mayor of a large North Amer­i­can city — stood for in boom­ing times aren’t so vi­tal when ev­ery­one is tight­en­ing their belt.

Ac­cord­ing to a Main­stream Re­search /Post­media poll, re­leased Fri­day, the gap be­tween new­comer Bill Smith and Nen­shi for the Oct. 16 vote is widen­ing, with the mayor now trail­ing by 17 points. Smith had the sup­port of 48 per cent of 1,500 Cal­gar­i­ans polled Oct. 3 and 4, while Nen­shi had 31 per cent.

Though skep­ti­cal Nen­shi is on his way out, Duane Bratt, chair of the de­part­ment of eco­nom­ics, jus­tice and pol­icy stud­ies at Mount Royal Uni­ver­sity, said the mayor is in a tough fight. He be­lieves Cal­gary’s race is a preview of the 2019 pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

That’s when Rachel Not­ley’s NDP gov­ern­ment will be fight­ing Al­berta’s re-in­vig­o­rated con­ser­va­tives, which re-united un­der the United Con­ser­va­tive Party.

“Cal­gary will be the bat­tle ground in that race,” Bratt said. “With the Con­ser­va­tives out of power both fed­er­ally and provin­cially, there are a lot of vol­un­teers, donors, party mem­bers who are work­ing on Bill Smith’s cam­paign. If they are able to un­seat an in­cum­bent and pre­vi­ously very pop­u­lar mayor it would be a real sign of where the 2019 elec­tion is headed.”

Smith is a smooth-talk­ing lawyer and for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party pres­i­dent who’s short on de­tails but chan­nelling the busi­ness com­mu­nity’s frus­tra­tions with Nen­shi, who has ruf­fled more than a few feath­ers among the elite, in­clud­ing the own­ers of the Cal­gary Flames.

“We have all had em­ploy­ees who show a lot of prom­ise, they im­press you, they have great cre­den­tials, their ref­er­ences all checked out,” Smith said this week at a may­oralty de­bate or­ga­nized by the Cal­gary Cham­ber of Com­merce. “But as time goes along you re­al­ize that they are maybe not the right per­son for the job. They don’t lis­ten to ad­vice, they don’t keep their prom­ises, they don’t learn from their mis­takes, they don’t work well with oth­ers and they al­ways think they are the smartest per­son in the room. At some point, you re­al­ize they are the prob­lem. They are hold­ing you back. So what do you do? You fire them.”

The big­gest beef against Nen­shi is the es­ca­la­tion of mu­nic­i­pal taxes. Prop­erty taxes have in­creased by 51 per cent in the past seven years. Busi­ness taxes did even worse. That’s be­cause the 30 per cent va­cancy in of­fice space in the core — the high­est of any ma­jor global city — has meant other busi­nesses have had to pick up the slack. Ac­cord­ing to the Cal­gary Cham­ber, some 6,000 busi­nesses out­side the down­town have seen their tax bills in­crease as much as 200 per cent. A record num­ber of busi­nesses — 7,124 — closed their doors in 2016. Mean­while, the cham­ber com­plains an es­ca­la­tion of red tape is mak­ing it hard to at­tract new busi­ness to fill those empty of­fice tow­ers.

Dur­ing last week’s de­bate, Nen­shi said now’s not the time to cut back but to stim­u­late the econ­omy with pub­lic spend­ing. He talked up a $45 mil­lion fund cre­ated to help busi­nesses out­side the down­town core fac­ing big tax in­creases and on­go­ing ef­forts to cut red tape. He warned against a re­turn to a “colder, meaner, smaller, elite run city” and com­plained there is too much “down talk of Cal­gary,” a city rec­og­nized as one of the top in the world to live.

Too bad so many en­ergy com­pa­nies chose to trade it for lesser places with bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties and lower taxes.

VAN­COU­VER — To drum up ex­cite­ment around the launch of a credit card tar­get­ing the oft­pur­sued mil­len­nial de­mo­graphic, Amer­i­can Ex­press Canada tapped sev­eral star chefs last month to serve In­sta­gram-wor­thy plates at a res­tau­rant in Toronto that would launch and shut­ter within a week.

Be­fore Ja­panese cloth­ing re­tailer Uniqlo opened its first Van­cou­ver lo­ca­tion this month, it ran a shop with a twist for one day. The lo­ca­tion was stocked with flan­nel shirts, but em­ploy­ees asked Cana­di­ans to choose be­tween leav­ing with a free one or gift­ing it to a new­comer.

Later this month, Google will open a tem­po­rary dough­nut store in Toronto, pro­mot­ing its new smart speaker, the Google Home Mini, si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

While the pop-up shop may have started as a way for on­line re­tail­ers to stage a lower-risk ex­per­i­ment with a phys­i­cal pres­ence, the tem­po­rary store­front has mor­phed into a mar­ket­ing tool for es­tab­lished brands, of­ten ones that al­ready boast mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions.

“It’s def­i­nitely a trend,” said Tamara Szames, a Cana­dian re­tail an­a­lyst for ap­parel and footwear with the NPD Group.

Even Ikea Canada, which op­er­ates a dozen stores in the coun­try, has cre­ated mul­ti­ple short­lived shops. In June, the Swedish re­tailer opened the Ikea Play Cafe in Toronto where shop­pers could sam­ple meat­balls, play a gi­ant pin­ball ma­chine and, of course, shop a small se­lec­tion of the com­pany’s kitchen prod­ucts.

Pop-up shops backed by big cor­po­ra­tions now spring up like whack-a-moles, and Szames thinks it’s “a very smart trend.”

Com­pa­nies can change the con­ver­sa­tion with con­sumers and align brand mes­sag­ing, she said, point­ing to strug­gling de­part­ment store chain Sears.

In April, Sears hosted a pop-up in a down­town Toronto neigh­bour­hood Vogue iden­ti­fied as the world’s sec­ond hippest in 2014. The trendy spot in­tended to woo mil­len­nial con­sumers with Sears’s new pri­vate la­bel brand as the com­pany at­tempted to re-in­vent it­self amid slug­gish sales.

That ex­pe­ri­ence could change the way a con­sumer views the com­pany and prompt them to ei­ther travel to one of their per­ma­nent stores to shop or to their on­line store, said Szames.

A tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion also lets es­tab­lished Cana­dian com­pa­nies test new mar­kets in a vast coun­try or in­ter­na­tional re­tail­ers ex­per­i­ment with the Cana­dian con­sumer, she said.

Ja­panese-based Muji, for ex­am­ple, of­fered a pop-up shop in Van­cou­ver ear­lier this year and later opened a lo­ca­tion at Me­trop­o­lis at Metro­town in nearby Burn­aby.

The method pro­vides ad­di­tional ben­e­fits for big brands whose prod­ucts are sold in other com­pa­nies’ stores.

Nes­tle Canada, for ex­am­ple, hosted a smat­ter­ing of pop-up shops this past year. In Mon­treal, peo­ple could cus­tom­ize Delis­sio Rus­tico margherita piz­zas. In Toronto, passersby could sam­ple Haa­gen-Dazs ice-cream flights a la wine tast­ings and ice-cream cock­tails dur­ing happy hour. Later in the sum­mer, pedes­tri­ans could stop at a makeshift camp­ground and roast s’mores us­ing Aero choco­late.

The prac­tice al­lows the com­pany to de­velop an ex­pe­ri­ence for con­sumers they don’t get to in­ter­act with in stores, and re-in­vent a brand for new, younger de­mo­graph­ics, said Tracey Cooke, vi­cepres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mar­ket­ing ex­cel­lence at Nes­tle.

The com­pany sees a di­rect pos­i­tive re­la­tion with sales in the vicin­ity of the pop-up, she said.

JIM WELLS/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

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