Soundlounge explains how optimised music can have a substantial positive impact on both sales and revenue
In recent weeks M&S announced its move to scrap music across its
retail stores nationwide - according to M&S spokespeople, this commercial decision was based on
"extensive research and feedback from their customers and colleagues”.
Of course, many of us will empathise. I have walked out of many a
store myself, garment in hand standing at the till, because the music was
literally driving me out of the shop. We can all understand that endless piping
of repetitive, bland and mindless background music would sap staff morale and
infuriate customers, but I cannot help thinking that M&S are missing the
mark by removing music altogether.
In our 30-year-long experience consulting for retailers such as
Fortnum & Mason, Debenhams, New Look, Pandora, we have found optimised
music to have a substantial positive impact on both sales and revenue. Over the
years, our research has shown that the right music/sound will increase customer
capture at the door, dwell-time, browse-time, basket size and overall spending,
as well as boost staff motivation and productivity. But this is only true of optimised music: strategically sourced and curated playlists that reflect the
brand guidelines and designed specifically to enhance the shopping experience.
Ideally too this optimised music will complement each store's environment and
importantly speak directly to the audience walking in through its doors.
All too often retailers rely on playlists that are based on nothing
more than ‘a feeling’ and track popularity or the manager’s personal taste. These
often end up being bland, repetitive (how I hate playlists that effectively say
‘it must be 2.0’clock because it’s Lady Gaga’) or worse – sound like
formulated, music-by-the-yard, wallpaper playlists. As you’d expect, the use of
this kind of music very quickly equates to noise pollution and drives sections
of customers away in their droves (PRS research quotes 4 out 5 customers walk
out when the music is wrong).
So what do you do when something isn’t working for you? Do you just
take the easy route and simply walk away from the idea? Installing speakers
that enhance the environment is an expensive operation. Do you ask if it is the
act of playing music that is the issue or the actual music itself?
The process of creating bespoke music playlists for a store can be
an expensive first step and continuing to get it right requires ongoing
investment. But our experience shows that when a retailer stops and understands
not only their consumers’ music behaviour but looks to match that with their patterns
of behaviour in the store (not always the same), they will see both qualitative
and quantitative ROI times over.
Designing optimised playlists is an in-depth process of art and
science, involving not only creative music expertise, but also research and
data analysis, creation of store sound style-guides, bespoke playlists, ongoing
checks and balances etc. But those retailers who do get it right find that they
can literally increase dwell time in the store by an impressive 17%. After that
it’s up to the retailer to actually sell the product! Music, like any other
component, can only do so much!