When’s the last time you passed a pop-up shop? Probably quite recently.

This decade, temporary outposts have gone from an indie phenomenon to a mainstream marketing tactic. Retail pop-ups now earn $50 to $80 billion a year for everyone from tiny startups to major brands.

And healthcare pop-ups are nothing new. Pop-up clinics regularly appear to offer care in underserved areas – pop-up pharmacies, too. Nonprofits use them to draw attention to their causes. Some permanent healthcare facilities offer pop-up art and entertainment to attract attention and engage the community.

What makes pop-ups work?

  • They’re novel. The appearance of a new façade naturally draws attention.
  • They’re ephemeral. The “limited time only” nature of a pop-up naturally creates a sense of urgency that spurs action.
  • They’re personal. Real-world interaction is at a premium these days.
  • They’re beautiful. Usually, pop-ups are designed to be as eye-catching and appealing as possible, adding color to a previously empty spot.
  • They’re multifunctional. Pop-ups – whether retail, restaurant, or other – offer not only a good or service, but an experience.

But can pharma brands really make use of these Instagrammable, FOMO-addressing techniques for drawing street traffic? Absolutely.

Consider whether your brand has any of these goals, which can all be addressed with a pop-up experience:

  • Piloting a new approach. Do you want to see if your new messaging hits home? A pop-up can be a way to test that.
  • Engaging in a more personal way. If you’re hoping to build more emotionally immersive conversations with patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, even payers or companies – in-person could be the way to go.
  • Having a presence at a certain time of year, in a specific location, or at an event. The Intouch ALLin campaign went on the road for a year to meet patients and caregivers. Events like WalkMS, or the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, helped us to interact with exactly the right people that we needed to learn from.

As pharma marketers, we often need to convey the importance of diagnosis or treatment. We often need to increase an empathic understanding for what a condition may cause.

We all often face a complicated mission – to communicate information that is not only complicated and technical, but which can also be intensely personal and emotional. A small-scale, personal setting can be exactly the right way to accomplish this.