I Pop Up You Pop Up We Pop Up: An Empirical Excursion into the World of the Pop-Up Phenomenon in Copenhagen‘s Gastronomy Industry

Sabrina Fetz & Katrin Fieseler

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis provides an exploratory excursion into the world of the culinary pop-up phenomenon in Copenhagen. Food has always been a central issue for humans in their everyday lives. The way we perceive nutrition today, though, has changed. Not only in regard to what we eat, but also how we eat. Food is more then mere nutrition, it has become an important determinant in terms of cultural, societal and social factors and constitutes a lifestyle component more than ever before. This thesis is based on the assumption that the current state of and recent developments in food culture facilitated the emergence of many novel and innovative food initiatives, one of them being the pop-up phenomenon. The pop-up phenomenon has not been given particular attention in an academic context so far, which is why the purpose of this work lies in contributing to a thorough understanding of the phenomenon itself as well as elucidating its impact on the gastronomy industry in the Danish capital. In order to accomplish such contribution, we chose to apply a qualitative methodological approach as this was the most suitable method for researching in a nascent field like the one at hand. We conducted interviews with several different Copenhagen-based pop-up entrepreneurs and restaurateurs. In the course of our research, we could identify a number of core elements that underlie the pop-up phenomenon being its perishability, its transformability and its experience component. Based on these core characteristics, we could further define the pop-up phenomenon’s impact on the gastronomy industry with regards to both value created and its contribution to the industry’s innovativeness. Concerning the first of these aspects, pop-ups create value as they become a social incubator by delivering real and memorable experiences, bringing people together in unusual constellations and often unusual places. Secondly, pop-ups allow a comparatively high degree of experimentation and thus facilitate creativity and eventually innovation. Furthermore, pop-ups make a considerable contribution to the overall improvement of Copenhagen’s food culture, as they not only recruit new ambassadors for a good eating culture, but also educate the consumer, who in turn learns to appreciate an exquisite food experience. Nevertheless, pop-ups do not seem to provide a base for a viable business model and require pop-up entrepreneurs to incorporate them into further business concepts. Our research is limited to the extent that we view pop-ups only in the light of the entrepreneur, but not from a consumer‘s perspective. Further researchers could add a quantitative study to investigate the consumers’ perspective to the phenomenon. Additionally, we point to the possibilities of further research on network mechanisms that are attached to the popup industry, or what the impact of pop-ups on democratization of the gastronomy scene. On a more general level, existing thoughts on the future of the experience economy could be extended with regards to the pop-up phenomenon. Finally, it could be exciting to use the results at hand to address other industries, too.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages104