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Shop ‘n Bop

October 2009

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The Straits Times, Urban, Nora Farhain

In-store music can get customers into the groove of spending. A store at Ion Orchard even boasts a DJ console. Other retailers are customising their own playlist
Like it or loathe it, when you shop in fashion stores there is more often than not an incessant beat pounding out as you rifle through the racks.
There is a good reason for this ubiquitous shopping soundtrack It makes you more likely to buy, buy, buy, that’s why, why, why.

Anna Leong, 35, marketing manager for fashion labels Camper, Promod and Springfield, says: “Music creates the right mood and adds excitement to the shopping experience.”

The dose relationship between sales and tunes is exactly why Spanish label Bershka’s new 4,000 sq ft store at Ion Orchard boasts a DJ console where aspiring deejays spin each Saturday afternoon, filling the premises with thumping dub and house music.

The label has also started the Bershka DJ Academy, where music enthusiasts learn deejaying from local DJs such as Hasnor and KoFlow.

This musical strategy is striking a sweet note so far. Says Jullie Tay, 39, general manager for the fashion division of apparel house RSH, which represents Bershka in Singapore: “Sometimes, when we have to turn off the music to fine-tune the sound system, the flow of shoppers into Bershka slows down.”

According to Simon Faure-Field, 39, chief executive of Equal Strategy, a customer experience consultancy based in Singapore, there has been a lot of research showing that music can influence shopping behaviour.

“As humans, we have our five senses working simultaneously, sending messages to our brain on a subconscious level. If you can engage all five senses to send a consistent feel-good message, then you’ve got a winning combination,” he says.

As Tay puts it: “Happy customers are more likely to keep the cash registers ringing.”

Indeed, in a British survey of 2,000 shoppers by Entertainment Media Research (EMR), a European entertainment research consultancy, 72 per cent said that a store that plays good music is more inviting. Given the choices of a high-street store with music and one without, a whopping 90 per cent said that they would opt to shop in the former.

No wonder that, according to Faure-Field, retailers that used to be content with piping in music from radio stations are now more willing to invest money in customising in-store music.

EFFECT OF TEMPO

The key musical elements making you want to shop ‘n bop till you drop are tempo, genre and volume.

Faure-Field, who also has a background in deejaying, says that tempo affects the speed at which customers move around in the store.

In one reported experiment, a slower tempo resulted in consumers spending more money as they became more relaxed, he said.

As for genre, retailers choose soundtracks to reflert the tastes of their target customers, as well as their stores’ brand identity and interior design.

British fast fashion label New Look’s store at Ion Orchard spins Top 40 pop songs because these are the radio hits that most appeal to its target teen customers, says Clara Lim, 32, the brand’s advertising and promotions manager.

French label Promod, which has four outlets here, spins French soundtracks that sometimes get Singapore customers asking store staff for the names of the tracks or singers.

The in-store music at luxury French footwear label Christian Louboutin’s Takashimaya boutique here is linked to the store’s latest collections.

Says Simon Pung, from Hong Kong-based Stattus music consultancy firm, who designs the store soundtrack for Christian Louboutin: “For example, when American film-maker David Lynch photographed Christian Louboutin shoes for the Fetish Art Projert (a collaboration between Lynch and Louboutin), we selected tracks inspired by Lynch’s movies.”

VOLUME MATTERS

Loud music is a turn-off when it comes to getting shoppers to stay and pay.

As a result, volume control has become an important consideration for in-store audio design, says Faure-Field.

Speakers are placed at strategic positions, playing at different volumes. For example, at the cashier, there is a lower concentration of speakers and music plays more softly.

And forget CD players or MP3 devices. Things are more sophisticated now, with major retailers here using computerised systems for in-store music.

The River Island stores at Raffles City and VivoCity use a computer software called Download Player from British in-store music provider, Imagesound.

It automatically downloads the latest River Island playlist from Imagesound’s music library.
This kind of computerised technology also prevents errant staff from changing the music, ensuring what retailers describe as “branding consistency”. River Island stores all over the world, for instance, play the same music.

One of the good things about paying all this attention to beats, notes and rhythms: You can often see the impart on shoppers straightaway.

Says Lim of New Look’s store soundtracks: “We definitely see customers enjoying the songs as they shop, bobbing their heads and mouthing the lyrics.”

When that happens, it is a sure sign that shoppers are getting into the groove of spending and the sweet music of ringing cash registers will not be far away.

nfarhain@sph.com.sg

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