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Published: 13 Apr 2015

Frank and Oak Embraces Fan-Backed Location Scouting

Frank & Oak, Montreal

Canadian menswear e-tailer Frank and Oak has launched 'In my City' – a two-week online campaign designed to bring six, long-term bricks-and-mortar pop-up stores to locations across the US. Taking its cues from well-known crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, the brand is asking US fans to cast a vote for their preferred destinations – but not without the rather unusual step of first 'investing' in the company. Consumers can only vote by 'backing' their request with the purchase of a gift card.

Via a dedicated microsite dubbed Collective Impact, 'backers' may choose from six different price levels – ranging from $10 to $3,000 – which are then processed as gift cards. More money doesn't equate to more of a say on where the store is launched, but it does garner bigger rewards when it does. Investments of more than $50 warrant rewards packages/bonuses such as a free tote bag, the chance to attend a store's opening event, dinner with the founders, or a trip to the brand's HQ in Montreal. If the store doesn't open in their preferred city, the gift card amount is refunded to the backer.

The strategy has garnered interest from some consumers (at the time of writing, Manhattan had 269 backers versus 22 for Seattle – equating to $14,830 and $1,130, respectively). However, it may risk alienating future consumers and potential 'light-touch advocates/influencers' – consumers who are interested in engaging with the brand, but resent the need to make a purchase before the brand entertains their opinion.

For more on the critical importance of giving millennial consumers and their younger counterparts a voice in order to engage them, see Experimentation & Co-Creation from our Future of the Store Industry Trend, Consumer Creators, and Exploiting Insider Access. See also Toy Worlds: Targeting Gen Me, Born on the Web, SXSWi 2015: Social Media Strategies, and the upcoming report Athleisure Engagement Strategies, publishing on April 16.

Echoing the brand's six existing pop-up stores in Canada, each outlet promises to run for 12-18 months. This gives visitors not only the opportunity to try on and see products up-close, but also to connect with the creative community via talks, lessons, and other in-store events (see also The Rise of Edutainment for more on this topic).

For more on harnessing community and commerce to drive brand advocacy, see GlobalShop 2015: Digital Innovation, Ikea Taps into the Power of Fans, Specialise to Survive, Community & Commerce and Everlane's Transparency Tours, LA, and Kit and Ace: Ultra Local-Centric NY Debut.

For more on the value of embracing fandoms, see our report Beyond Commerce: Rites, Rituals & Culture Clubs, part of our New-Era Luxury Macro Trend, publishing on May 7.

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