One of the attractions of pop-ups for businesses is that they can act as an informal, unacknowledged market research project.

Think pop-up events and shops are only for big brands? Think again. Your company or association could benefit from these buzzy, short-term events as well.

In case you’re unfamiliar, a pop-up can be an event, a gallery, restaurant, a shop or a collection of shops, that opens quickly in a temporary location and only for a limited amount of time. Originally used by underground artists and chefs, the event device has found its way to large-scale corporate America. Why? One of the attractions of pop-ups for businesses is that they can act as an informal, unacknowledged market research project.

According to a study conducted by Chicago-based marketing firm Republic, familiar brands have found they’re a great way to not only generate buzz and revenue (between $45 billion and $50 billion annually) but also introduce and test new products or ideas.

One company that’s found continued pop-up success is Target. During last year’s holiday season, it opened a 16,000-square-foot Target Wonderland in New York City for two weeks. The company said in a blog post- “Our pop-up stores may be temporary, but they leave quite an impression. Each shop is uniquely designed and decorated into an unforgettable store so you can get excited about upcoming collections and events.”

Some more recent small and large-scale pop-up examples are: the National Peanut Board held Peanut Power Pop-Up Tour for three days in New York City and the FOX network ran a special “MasterChef” restaurant series. A branch of Central Perk, the coffee shop from the TV series “Friends”, opened in London to promote a limited-edition box set of the series. Nike held an event for four days, selling a special edition basketball shoe at $250 a pair, while Gap outfitted a school bus with merchandise instead of seats, as a travelling shop across the U.S.

So, what could be the benefits of your company hosting a pop-up event of its own?

Testing Ground. Not sure if a new meeting format or concept is the right fit for your group? Holding a pop-up meeting ‘preview’ could be a great way to get early feedback on your idea before you dedicate resources to it. Maybe you could build the pop-up in a small space that’s part of another meeting that’s already scheduled to take place to save some money.

New Attendee Engagement. Holding pop-up events in parts of the country where your association doesn’t traditionally hold its conferences is a perfect way to engage prospects. Woo them with a one-day meeting pop-up that highlights the best of the best, and you may see your attendance numbers grow when the actual meeting or convention comes to town. You could also have pop-ups that cater to audiences your association is looking to target, whether that’s those new to the industry or those who are aspiring to make it to executive ranks.

Buzz Builder. A pop-up event may just be the thing your association needs to build a little buzz. Use social media to get the word out. A creative hashtag is a fun addition. To up the buzz factor, you could also consider holding the pop-up event in a unique venue. Think outside the ballroom: shipping containers, school buses, museums, vacant retail spaces, old factory buildings and even circus tents have all been used.

Urgency & Exclusivity. The exclusivity of pop-up events means those pop-ups that are ticketed often sell out extremely quickly. The result is a clear sense of urgency to attend. It’s impossible to extend that feeling to an event or place that’s opening indefinitely. Whereas if it’s temporary or first come, first served – it’s something people need to do right now.

Lower Costs, Higher Returns. A pop-up event is better value for money than running a full-fledged advertising campaign or hosting a traditional meeting series. It may serve fewer people, but you’re getting a more intense return. The pop-up event also enables your company to communicate your brand in an incredibly strong, concentrated way.