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Le Substore : Heineken opens its popup store in Paris

It’s been quite a long time we haven’t been reporting about remarkable popup stores. Not that we didn’t want but we actually didn’t spot anything really exciting. We took the chance to visit the Substore, Heineken’s popup store opened in Paris (19 rue de la Verrerie) from 20 november until 20 december.

The Substore was created and built around one new product brought out by Heineken : a personal beer pump (called LeSub) manufactured by Krups and available in a variety of colors and finitions (see for instance the carbon and metallic gold versions, the latter being a 50-piece limited edition).

The substore is arranged around an attractive display of the machine itself (with digital supports to explain how it works) and even has a bar on the first floor (that I wasn’t able however to visit the day I went there).

The marketing strategy behind LeSub

From a marketing viewpoint I think the challenges are quite big for Heineken to make sure this innovation will be adopted. This is not the first time someone brings out such a product to life. And I understand Heineken wants to defend its position in a competitive context of concentration and consolidation. AB-Inbev is merging with Sab Miller and will control half of the market. What’s left for Heineken which suddenly becomes a small player ? I guess Heineken imagined this machine to try to “lock” the consumer into the Heineken galaxy (a remake of the Nespresso or Gillette strategies).

Will LeSub be a success or not?

What are the chances of success ? Limited in my opinion. The product range being limited, will the consumer buy in ? Not sure.

Secondly the machine takes a lot of space and unlike a Nespresso coffee machine which is used everyday, a beer pump will be used more rarely, hence having less potential to justify the investment (price tag around 170€). The latter is really a pain point.

There’s no subsidizing scheme available with this machine (except a 30€ temporary discount) making it even harder to buy. Last but not least, physical distribution is limited to the pop-up store and refills have to be ordered online and delivered to your house.

My conclusion

The substore popup store is really nicely conceived, and definitely worth a visit (hurry up, as it will close on Dec 20th !). The product is also an interesting innovation in itself, with a lot of technology put in the refill “cartridges”.

Yet, the chances that this beer pump will still be available in 1 year are thin. We can bet if you want but my guess is that you won’t be hearing much of the Heineken machine in a year from now.

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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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