Experiential One-Hour ‘Skittles’ Pop-Up to Launch on Christmas Eve in Toronto

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Now more than ever, brands are launching pop-up activations in an effort to create buzz and drive foot traffic. In Canadian cities, lineups are common — such pop-ups utilize a psychological strategy where scarcity creates demand, and the best concepts are also experiential and memorable in order to create positive brand recognition. 

Candy brand Skittles is the latest brand to launch such a pop-up, and it will be doing so on Christmas Eve in Toronto for only one hour. The company says that it is doing so to service the ‘last minute procrastinator’, as most stores will be closed at the time (other than 24/7 retailers such as Rabba Fine Foods). Skittles has hosted similar pop-ups in the past and they’ve been hugely successful, and the very limited duration of this pop-up will be a test to see how many people will rush to the space during such a short period of time. 

The Skittles ‘Last Minute Gift Shop’ pop-up will be hosted at unit 112, 423 Queen Street West (near the corner of Spadina Avenue). Gift items in the store will be on-brand, including a skittles-covered ukulele and other novel, giftable-items. 

The Skittles pop-up on Queen Street West opens at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 24, and stays open until 12:59 a.m. on Christmas morning. The one-hour duration of the pop-up is remarkable and we’ll report back in January after evaluating its success. The first 60 guests will receive free Skittles-themed gifts. 

For an even shorter duration, the Skittles pop-up shop will launch an e-commerce site ( which will be active for one minute. You read that right. The online store opens to the public at 11:59pm on December 24 and will shut down promptly at 12:00 am on Christmas Day. One of the offers is $2 off selected Skittles products. 

As part of the branding initiative, Skittles is also donating $10,000 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, a charitable partner of Mars Wrigley Confectionary (parent company of Skittles). 

Toronto-based pop-up retail facilitator pop-up go, which works with brands seeking temporary activation spaces, coordinated the Queen Street location for Skittles. Marketing agency MediaCom is responsible for executing the brand strategy. 

Linda Farha, Founder and ‘Chief Connector’ of pop-up go, explained that her company has access to activation spaces nationwide, and even in Florida. “The requests for pop-up spaces has exploded in Canada over the past couple of years, as brands look to create buzz worthy experiences for a limited period of time.”

The return on investment for pop-up retail can be determined in various ways, including creating brand awareness as well as selling product. Given the extremely limited time span for the Skittles pop-up and e-commerce site next week, it would appear that Skittles’ goal is to create brand buzz as opposed to profit from sales, given the cost to activate versus potential return on investment. In many instances, pop-up retail comes out of a brand’s marketing budget, differentiating them from more traditional retailers that budget annually and look to sales as a primary indicator for return-on-investment. 

At the same time, some buzzy pop-ups can generate huge sums for some brands, especially when products ‘drop’ that are of limited quantity and for a limited period of time. One of the most memorable pop-ups in Toronto was musician Kanye West’s three-day pop-up on Toronto’s Ossington Avenue in August of 2016, where thousands lined up to buy ‘Life of Pablo’ merchandise — some of which included stencilled Gildan t-shirts which typically sell for next to nothing, but were priced closer to $100 with the branded ‘Life of Pablo’ stencilled lettering. 

Toronto has been on the forefront of pop-up activations in Canada, and lineups and high sales are an indication of their success. Elements of buzz worthy pop-ups can be integrated into long-term retail strategy as well, and it will be a topic of conversation in a feature article in Retail Insider in the New Year. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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  1. This is the sweetest thing I’ve seen since I first tried Kaak bi Loz (I call it "Danny", a Syrian delicacy). The pop-up is open just long enough to get stuck in traffic, so instead I will do my online shopping this year during the minute that the e-commerce site is open. Pray to goodness Skittles offers two-minute shipping.

    I was with Tootie earlier (don’t ask about the name, let’s just say she deserves it) and Natalie, frolicking down Queen Street West and saw the new store looks ready for customers. If only it were open sooner and longer, I’d dress down to almost nothing and sing ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ at the top of my lungs whilst wearing a Tutu (Bishop) and whilst pouring candy over my nubile body. A girl can dream, can’t she?

    Anyhoo, back to work, I have like 2 hours of work this week and let’s just say I haven’t done anything yet (I’m a pro pro-crastinator, it’s a lot of work being an online troll these days).

    Happy Chritesmas to the world! And happy news years! I know TECH BETTER than even my friend Donald J. Trump!!!


    "I’m the kind of guy they come after, when they come after the intellectuals."

    (copy editor, insert laughing emoji here)


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