Last month, news spread of a pop-up restaurant-come-social hot spot opening in the heart of New York City called the “Powamekka Café.” The inspiration behind the concept? The late rapper Tupac Shakur. The pop-up restaurant promised to be a place for guests to “play and parlay,” giving fans of the music icon the opportunity to revisit his life.
The estate of Tupac Shakur announced it was launching the pop-up restaurant to replicate the music legend’s vision he scrawled in a notepad years ago. This is one of many examples of how a brand, or in the Powamekka Café’s case, a celebrity, can transfer their equities across different platforms in order to engage with consumers. With 95 percent of online adults aged 18 to 34 likely to follow a brand via social networking, the demand to interact, engage and experience brands is significant. This call for constant connection has given brands the permission to further extend their names into new platforms.
Whilst traditional methods of brand extension involve developing new products, this form of extension calls for the core property to be extended into an experience. It involves taking a well-known brand or celebrity and transferring the core equities and aesthetic into a service experience — the most common form being a restaurant or café.
Examples of this trend are popping up everywhere. The infamous Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant opened its doors in New York to celebrate the upcoming new season of the series “Better Call Saul” in April this year, giving fans the chance to sample the Albuquerque fried chicken for themselves. Alternatively, consumers might choose to visit the Moleskine Café in Milano to sip a cup of freshly roasted Italian coffee whilst writing observations in their notebook.
The latest addition to the “branded café” trend will give chocolate lovers a new destination to treat their taste buds as Nutella has announced plans to open a permanent café in Chicago later this month.
Last summer saw the opening of Kellogg’s Café NYC in the heart of Times Square, making it the destination for any lover of cereal, and at $8 a bowl, it is clear that this establishment is all about an “experience” for its customers.
Noel Geoffroy, Kellogg’s senior vice president, said the company hopes “to elevate the experience from just cereal with milk. Just because I can open a beer at home, doesn’t mean I’m not going to the pub.”
With these developments, one might question whether there is any limit to the brands permitted to venture into this form of brand extension. As with everything in the branding world, the consumer has the last say on whether or not a new concept will be accepted — the Vogue pop-up café that launched last year in London was certainly a fun way to celebrate the magazine’s 100th birthday, but aside from the decor featuring Vogue covers from the past, there wasn’t much else the fashion magazine could offer in terms of a dining experience.
This limitation could explain why the Vogue Café was, along with so many other pop-up cafés, marketed as a temporary experience, creating a buzz to visit before it closes, whilst protecting it from consumers losing interest.
On closer analysis, the success of extending your brand into a restaurant may well rest with the type of consumer you attract. The appeal of going somewhere that offers something quirky yet familiar plays directly to the Millennials needing to update their Instagram feed, and the tourists looking to add to their collection of new experiences — Kellogg’s locating their café in the heart of Times Square was no coincidence.
Get the strategy right, and you have opened a new avenue for consumers to engage with your brand, reminding them that they can enjoy their favourite products in an entirely new and engaging way, apart from the shop floor.
Lisa Reiner is managing director of EMEA at Beanstalk.
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