Early in my tenure working for a specialty retailer, I was out visiting our stores. At that point, the stores had music that was coming via satellite from Muzak (not what you think but actually the largest provider of in-store music to retailers today) which offered something like 40 channels.
As we visited our stores, we found that they were playing whatever music most appealed to them. I remember walking into one of our stores in San Francisco that was playing some alternative channel full of Kurt Cobain-like suicidal moaning dribble that went great with the Goth getup the store manager was wearing — kid you not.
So, we took a step back and said, we know we have an aspirational brand….so what type of music fits with an aspirational brand? We determined it should be upbeat, yet comfortable. So we narrowed the focus down to three channels (which was still two too many but we had to start somewhere). After the change, you could hear the howling of the store teams 200 miles away. “This isn’t what our customers like.” “They used to come in here and sing along.” “Our customers are complaining about the new music.”
Sorry sister, but music is a corporate decision and we have to have consistency across all stores. And we knew all along it was the store teams that weren’t happy with the music change (the music channels we chose were targeted to our 25-49 female clientele and fit perfectly with our brand – imagine that).
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Get rid of the FM radio and throw your personal music tastes out the window.
I walked into a home store with upscale furnishings the other day to hear the squeal of a Prince guitar riff from “When Doves Cry.” Great song. But not great for the clients the store was catering to. Too many small retailers I walk into are playing music that the store team or owner enjoy but isn’t relevant to their customers.
So how do you get the right music? It goes back to understanding your customer, back to my topic yesterday about understanding your target audience. Who are they? What age are they? What’s their income level?
Understanding customer demographics can help you zone in on music options. The other component you need to consider is the tone you’re trying to set inside the store. Is it upbeat and happy, relaxing, or sophisticated? Upbeat says uptempo like pop or dance music. Relaxing says more mellow like lounge or even new age music. Sophisticated says jazz or standards music.
Music can actually increase the customer length of stay in store. But the choices in music are endless so make sure your music selection matches the mood you’re trying to set in your store (and make doubly sure it’s relevant to your audience).
What music are you playing and how is it impacting your store experience positively or negatively?