Hearing Your Image

From the moment a customer walks through a retailer’s door, an opinion is formed about that store. One contributing factor is from the music played. Music contributes to the overall customer experience and can ultimately determine how long a customer will linger in a store. The longer the linger, the more likely a sale. Music is a highly effective business tool that can drive sales, but it’s crucial that a retailer sets the right vibe.

Customized, curated music is a huge trend happening now that is helping retailers differentiate themselves from their competitors. Music no longer takes a background role but has become just as important as the actual merchandise itself. It has to reflect the brand perfectly. By having music designed specifically for a store, retailers have the opportunity to connect customers to their brand and reinforce the vision of their business.

Tailored music has a variety of benefits. It can:

  • Connect with a Client  – It turns out that music is more important to a retail business than people may think. As part of a survey by Heartbeat International, a brand and communication agency specializing in music and pop culture, respondents ranked music more difficult to live without than TV, newspapers and sports. Society has created a special relationship with music that is integrated into people’s everyday lives and ultimately affects their mood. When a retailer’s customers enter its store, it is important for them to feel connected to the store’s brand.
  • Avoid Legal Fees – Retailers probably have plenty of great music they could play in their store, but before they do, they have to buy the rights. Now more than ever, record labels and recording artists’ agents are vigilant about enforcing licensing agreements and following up on violations. Legal fees will set a retailer back in time and money, two assets no business owner wants to sacrifice.
  • Give a Store an Identity – Before selecting music for their stores, retailers need to ask themselves the following questions: What is the overall style? What is my demographic? What mood do I want to set – peaceful or lively? Music allows them to convey a message about their brands.
Some Examples

Tempur-Pedic recently opened up its first store in the greater Boston area and was looking for a music vibe that is “comfortable and chill” but “non-sleepy.” The brand wanted to stay away from tracks that sounded like lullabies or spa music. Instead, the international brand chose a “worldly eclectic” music vibe with a combination of modern jazz and “Euro-lounge” music. The goal was to appeal to a broad audience ranging from young adults to seniors.

WSS, offering a vast selection of shoes for men, women and children, carefully selected songs that are brand-new and current to further help attract a young (at heart) and hip customer base. By playing a fresh mix of pop, dance, rap, R&B, rock and country songs from the likes of Katy Perry, Usher and Justin Bieber, WSS ended up with a pleasant in-store vibe that makes shopping for the latest kicks fun and enjoyable.

giggle, a new parent store offering stylish must-have baby items, envisioned an in-store soundtrack that is both fun and easy and which complements the brand’s identity. Thus, giggle decided on a groovy and upbeat playlist that is more targeted at the parents than their kids. By choosing bouncy songs from swing singers like Louis Prima, giggle was able to achieve a happy and giggly in-store vibe, making it a breeze for parents to shop for their little ones.

More and more retailers today are seeing the trend toward programmed music, and it’s helping their businesses grow. They are realizing that discerning guests are turned off by generic music that doesn’t fit, and that customized tunes are the new way to go.

How They Program

Music programmers are dedicated to each account, so retailers that need a real person to build their playlist can have it controlled from headquarters. Not every client needs installation if they already have a great sound system. Some just pay for the playlist creation and management service monthly. Clients also can control the music from a client log-in website at their store’s computer.

The programmers do not record live music sessions or mix music themselves, but they take submissions from independent artists. Most of their music is licensed from recording studios in the categories of Top 40, classic hits and country, among others. However, they receive CDs in the mail often, and some programmers are musicians themselves.

In fact, Prescriptive Music’s founder, Allen Klevens, is a classically trained, gifted pianist. He played the Las Vegas circuit when he was in his 20s. So often, this indie, original music gets put into clients’ playlists. Some clients request “unrecognized, cutting-edge” music vs. what’s heard on the radio all the time. So people with backgrounds in music frequently can provide that expertise to create distinctive aural images for retailers.

Allen Klevens is founder of Prescriptive Music, a music sensory branding firm. The company creates carefully planned, customized “music vibe” programs that help retailers differentiate themselves, elevate the customer experience and ultimately drive sales. For more information, visit www.prescriptivemusic.com.