Business development · 20 December 2016

Nissan Electric Cafe created fresh kind of brand interaction

Nissan Electric Cafe
Sustainability is a topic that will increasingly drive corporate agendas

While the price of a coffee is relatively small, and something that is often given away for free anyway, the Nissan Electric Cafe brought a new meaning to the concept of earning your cup.

Located in Paris, the pop-up cafe invited consumers to produce energy through walking, jumping and cycling – with a beverage their reward for doing so.

It was seemingly all about showcasing Nissan’s eco technology, including those designed to power the home, cars and devices.

Pop-up shops, cafes and restaurants, like the Nissan Electric Cafe, are growing in popularity. All over the world, big brand leaders are trying their hands at innovative and intimate interaction with existing and potential customers.

From Pantone’s pop-up cafe in Monaco to Amazon’s shopping centre based offerings, they provide a way for brands to introduce new products, get customer feedback and reduce the seismic gap that can sometimes occur between big businesses and the millions of customers who make purchases.

In the case of the Nissan Electric Cafe, it coincided with the car brand’s launch of a new digital platform – called Electrify The World. For a business that’s future is linked to being able to design and build sustainable cars, and then encourage consumers to part with hard-earned money for them, creating a setting where energy was used as a currency for goods and services was very clever.

Gareth Dunsmore, director of electric vehicles for Nissan Europe, said at the pop-up’s opening: “Our pay with energy cafe is the perfect way of showcasing how we can potentially revolutionise the way in which we generate and utilise energy.

“We want to allow people to experience for themselves how new technologies such as xStorage Home can benefit their lives today, as well as help improve the lives of future generations.”

As with all good pop-ups, a short opening period drives hype and interest. The Nissan Electric Cafe was only open for two days, but will have done wonders for its desire to be seen as a responsible and forward-thinking operation.

Partnerships were an important part of making Nissan Electric Cafe memorable. Pavegen electro-magnetic indiction tiles allowed visitors to generate power by walking, while its photo-pod saw punters jump on tiles to produce enough energy to take a photo. WeWatt cycles served as a bar, where hot drinks were served after enough power was generated.

As was mentioned at the top of this article, smaller businesses are often much better at producing these humanistic interactions with customers. There’s no doubt that the Nissan Electric Cafe probably took months of planning and had a dedicated team for execution. And it showed in the result.

But smaller companies should see pop-ups as an unfair advantage over bigger businesses. Consumers shop small because they like the personalised and considered approach – and pop-ups are a natural extension of this.

They are also a great entry into the market, where an entrepreneur can test a concept without having to take on a big lease or hire lots of permanent staff. Cities and high streets are full of empty retail units these days (thanks to the recession) – but it means landlords are often very open to short-term occupancies.

The Nissan Electric Cafe was dismantled almost as soon as it was assembled, but should serve as great inspiration for young business owners.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

HR