Online consumer products retailer Brandless will run a pop-up location in Los Angeles and stream some of its related live-streamed and online content nationwide May 1-13, the company said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The pop-up is selling tickets to workshops featuring experts in "wellness, food, entrepreneurship and social impact," the startup said.
Brandless will also donate meals on behalf of each visitor to the pop-up, in addition to three meals every time a community member tags @brandlesslife and #brandlesslife on social media, and 5,000 meals in honor of every speaker at its event.
Brandless launched last July as a pure-play consumer products site aiming to capitalize on the current appreciation for lower-priced private label consumer goods — a mainstay of drugstores and grocery stores for years that is enjoying popularity, especially among younger consumers. Millennials, who came of age during the Great Recession, are less brand-loyal than their parents and grandparents, which has provided fertile ground for retailers with high-quality private label brands.
Although the company touts its elimination of a "brand tax," (which Co-Founder and CEO Tina Sharkey has said can drive up prices on brand-name beauty products by as much as 300%), the company is also taking a few pages from legacy retail. Its $3 across-the-board price tags recall dollar stores' origins; its slimmed down assortment follows the model of Aldi, Lidl and Trader Joe's; and its spare labeling resembles the old days of generic labels, before grocery stores brought more design to their private label lines.
The L.A. pop-up is an extension of its mission to connect with consumers on "ways to live more, and brand less," Sharkey told Retail Dive in an email. The pop-up should also provide Brandless with opportunities to test products and marketing, she said, noting that the company would be "watching how people react to our products in real life, since [this] is the first opportunity to see, taste and test our product assortment in person and get the full sensory experience," Sharkey said.
Despite its name, Brandless does have a brand. Its pop-up is poised to "do wonders" in trumpeting that and drawing in new customers into its ecosystem, according to Matt Sargent, senior vice president of retail for consulting firm Magid.
"The ability to offer a physical extension of your brand is dividing the winners and losers in the race among digital pure plays," he told Retail Dive in an email. "If you look at players like Peloton, Casper, Warby Parker, and Away they are all creating physical extensions of their brand in order to bridge the chasm between their loyal digital following and the growth opportunity in the mass market. While digital brands do a great job of retaining customers with their ecosystem, they struggle with bringing in new customers. Physical extensions fill this gap."
For now at least, the L.A. pop-up is the only planned brick-and-mortar location, though. Sharkey told Retail Dive that "There are no brick-and-mortar retail plans at the moment — we're completely focused on the pop up."