What does your store sound like? Why does it sound that way? Does it sound like it should?
Creating the right store sound for the brands that we partner with is one of our main focusses every day at AVC Immedia. We work closely with our clients to understand what it is they want their stores to sound like and why. Then we bring our expertise to the mix, from designing the strategy and selecting the right music down to making sure that the equipment that’s playing the audio is just right for the environment.
Here, we go behind the curtain to look at how we approach those tasks. This is a recent piece of work we’ve undertaken where the brief was to analyse a food retailer’s current store sound, look at whether it was right for that brand and if not, which steps should be taken to get them on track.
We visited several of this retailer’s stores throughout the country to get a balanced view.
What we saw
This is definitely a premium retailer with well-thought-out promotional displays, a very fresh feel to the produce and the space was well-used.
The age range of the customers was wide in the stores we visited, although skewed to the older end, no surprise given which brand this is.
What we heard
Nothing at points. In every store we sampled, the hum of the refrigerated units drowned out the music. In these stores, the music couldn’t be heard in nearly half of the floor space. More annoyingly, as you walk around the aisles, the music would come and go as it competed with the electrical noise of the fridges.
One store seemed to have tried to combat that by turning the music up. It didn’t work by the fridges, but when you were at the other side of the store, the music was too loud. It felt like being in one of those bars where you have to ask someone to speak up because you can’t hear them over what’s playing in the “background”.
We heard a couple of promotional messages playing in some stores; however we couldn’t make out what they were for as we were unable to hear the words over the store noise.
As for the music itself? It’s pleasant but with little variety. We could be in a store for 15 minutes and only hear one genre of music, such as female singer-songwriters or soul. When music plays like that, the tracks tend to blend into one.
The good thing about this music was that the energy level was consistent, there were no unsettling lurches from track to track.
For a premium brand, the music felt a little lacking in gravitas and too unfamiliar. There’s a delicate balance to be struck between too cool or too mainstream and here again, by being too unknown, the music blended into one.
This retailer also has a strong British heritage in its image, so it was odd that while it plays that card in its outward appearance, most of the music was American or European.
What we would recommend
Stop the wastage, if the music isn’t being heard in large sections and when it is heard it’s not standing for anything, then there’s money being wasted on something that is having minimal impact
We’d start with store surveys to ensure the right speakers are being used, they are the right places and the volumes set correctly. This would ensure the music can be heard evenly through the stores.
We’d suggest that the music be scheduled properly by a music professional who can ensure that the variety of music a customer hears during a visit is increased.
We’d keep the overall consistent energy of the music but deliver it through a more varied approach.
We’d re-profile the music to give it more diversity and make it more noticeable. We’d do this by introducing more artists and tracks that are familiar to the brand’s customers, but without becoming too mainstream.
We’d recommend injecting a lot more British artists, old and new, into the mix.
This retailer has the feel of the music spot on but is missing out hugely with poor audio equipment standards and a bland music selection.
Written by Euan McMorrow, Content Director at AVC Immedia.