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INTERVIEW OF My Johansson Retail Coordinator on HAPPY SOCKS

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BestPopUpStores : can you present us your company?

 My Johansson : It started under the cloud-ridden April sky of yet another belated Swedish spring in 2008. Two friends had a vision: a vision to spread happiness by turning an everyday essential into a colorful design piece with a rigid standard of ultimate quality, craftsmanship and creativity. It’s a concept brought to perfection by the Happy Socks collective of creators. With a strong brand image, Happy Socks sells a wide variety of fashion socks, underwear and accessories of the best quality.

Today Happy Socks are sold in more than 70 countries across every continent and there are to this date 23 permanent Happy Socks stores across the globe.

The Happy Socks collections feature an almost endless variety of models and designs, crossing a wide spectrum of color combinations, materials and textures.

The HQ is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and the company has to this date right over 30 employees, and within three years Happy Socks will have more than doubled that number!

Happy Socks core values:

We are: Happy, colorful, stylish, surprising, creative, personal and free.
We are not: Slick, stiff or normal.

BestPopUpStores : What are the reasons behind launching this pop-up store? What is the role of the pop-up store within the marketing strategy of the company? Which goals are you trying to achieve?

MJ : November and December 2013 we opened a total of 31 Pop Up Stores all over the world. Our distributors opened 18 of them at their own markets, following our guidelines and Pop Up Store Concept – but operating the stores themselves. 13 of them, all located in Europe, we opened ourselves, operating the stores together with local partners at each location. We opened stores in following cities: Stockholm, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Milan, Barcelona, Paris, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. The whole project was a big success!

We want to be available to all our customers so this year we aim to get local and even closer to our consumers by opening up Pop Up Stores throughout the world again. We are aiming to open 15 Pop Up stores in Europe that we operate ourselves together with local partners. We will be back in some cities from last year, but there are also some newcomers like Venice. We want to strengthen our brand position and get closer to our end consumers.

The Pop Up stores are a great marketing tool to present our concept and products. We want the customer to step into the world of Happy Socks, i.e. a relaxed, colorful, creative place where you get happy just by looking at our products! You can walk into any Pop Up store we operate and you will see the staff wearing white lab coats with the classic Happy Socks Big Dot pattern. The staff uniforms have been a huge success! Our followers on social media have seen these lab coats on our Instagram and Facebook, and now they want to buy it. It’s really fun! This is exactly what we want – creating a buzz around our stores and our concept and hopefully get a snowball effect that drives the customers to the different locations.

Last year we had a Holiday campaign with photographer David LaChapelle, which was great for the brand marketing wise! This year we have an exclusive collaboration with rapper and artist Snoop Dogg called “The Art of Inspiration”. Snoop has, together with our designer, made three pairs of socks that will be sold as single socks as well as a box set of all three designs. We believe this is our biggest collaboration so far and if you visit the Pop Up stores you will also see some of the artwork Snoop Dogg has painted. We are definitely using this collaboration to marketing the Pop Up stores, but we are mainly doing this project to increase the brand awareness in each market and getting closer to our customers.

BestPopUpStores : How was the conception and the realization of the pop-up store carried out? Were you helped in this process or was everything done internally? How did you decide on the duration and localization of the pop-up store?

MJWe had one Pop Up store in 2012 in Paris and in 2013 we wanted to go big. As mentioned before, we opened 13 stores together with local partners. From one store to 13, that’s a big difference! However, that reflects the mentality of the company; either you go big or you go home. Happy Socks are taking risks with all projects we do, but that is what making us interesting and successful.

Building up the concept for the Pop Up stores has been made internally and basically all practical things such as logistics, artwork design, order placements etc. are done from the Stockholm office. However, location scouting is made by local partners in different countries and we are operating the stores once they’ve opened together with these partners as well. It works really great and we hand them guidelines of our concept and the message we want to spread.

Once a location is found, we are visiting the area to see if it’s what we are looking for this year. We are focusing on commercial areas were we can reach the wider range of customers and we have chosen to have the stores opened throughout the big Holiday season since it is the most important sales period of the year for most retailers. Once the store opens we go back to the location and make sure everything looks good and also we get the chance to meet the amazing staff!

BestPopUpStores : According to you, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a pop-up store ? Are you satisfied with the results achieved (or being achieved) and which conclusions do you draw of this initiative ?

MJ : Disadvantages could definitely be that the concept “pop up” is still quite unknown in many cities and what’s unknown can also be a bit scary, if you know what I mean. So for customers that never heard about Happy Socks before, might not want to enter the store because it’s new and unexplored. But, there are two sides of the coin so that can also be the huge advantage of a Pop Up! Hopefully our stores look just as inviting as we claim them to be, so the new customer really wants to enter the store once they see all the colors and great designs we have. Another disadvantage can also be the time period a Pop Up has open. If we are open for only two months, people might miss the store if we haven’t been working the PR and marketing enough around that specific store.

 Biggest advantage is of course the marketing value and brand recognition it gets in the end. The whole Pop Up project is really hard work but we want to get closer to our customers and spread the word about Happy Socks around the world. It is also a great way to get even more knowledge about the different markets we have the stores in!

This is the second year we do a Pop Up project this big and by taking bits and pieces of what worked well and what didn’t work that well from last year, we have made the Pop Up project for 2014 really really awesome! You will be able to find us in following cities from November throughout whole December: Paris (two stores), Stockholm (three stores), Tanumshede, Milan, Venice, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin, Antwerp and Amsterdam plus two more unknown.

For pictures and competitions, follow us on social media:

> Instagram: @happysocksofficial

> Facebook: Happy Socks – the Official Page

> Twitter: @HappySofficial

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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