Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sounds of Shopping (SOS) Series: Fashionable enough to catch that Top Hit Song?

In this week’s Sounds of Shopping Series,
we look at the sound-scapes of fashion outlets in Singapore.

A general consensus is given that music is significant
for the shopping environment as music is played in
most shops which we visited.

Fashion and Music
Fashion and music thrive on creativity and reflect ever-changing social and cultural trends.
It is no wonder why both industries often serve as complement to each other:

Musicians like Lady Gaga and Madonna seek to set new fashion trends to gain popularity
while fashion labels like Hugo Boss often engage musicians to create songs that specifically cater to their brands.

Check out Hugo Boss podcasts: (click to download the track)

The Reality: Different Fashion, Similar Music
Given the creativity of both fashion and music industries,
we were a little disappointed to hear almost 60% of
the fashion shops playing regular chart songs on 98.7FM.

These shops failed to leave an impression or
differentiate themselves from their competitors
through their soundscape since their music played
sounded too similar to each other.

About 75% of shops play the English pop music.

Other music genres played were K-Pop (Samuel and Kelvin),
Mandopop (Clarks), Spanish Ambient (Massino Dutti)
and Dance (Forever 21, Mango). 

Sound-scapes: The Admirables and The Much-Left-To-Be-Desired 
We rate their sound-scapes based on 3 factors:

1) Their choice of music
2) Control the management has over the music played in outlets (specially designed music for their shops played at specific times and days by store staff)
3) Legal licensing awareness

The Music
Berksha, a Spanish brand, has invested big time in
enhancing the audio experience of their outlets.

The big boom boxes and electronic mixes of chart songs
have created a club feel to their own outlets.

Shoppers feel pumped up and the line of clothes speaks “trendy”.
It is pretty common for staff to be asked by shoppers the music played
in their stores.

Listen to their music at

Control of Music
CDs are distributed from Spain to each individual outlet, ensuring a consistent audio strategy. 

Licensing rights:
As Berksha owns the rights of their music, the tracks played are fully licensed.

We rate their sound-scape 4.8 out of 5.
Excellent sound-scape!


Charles and Keith
The Music
Charles and Keith plays original, upbeat and exciting songs, making the shopping experience enjoyable.

Control of Music
Charles and Keith uses streaming music technology.
This technology allows the head office to have control over the music being played in stores.

Licensing Rights:
We understand that the company provides streaming music technology
to Charles and Keith in covering proper music licensing rights.

We rate their sound-scape 4.5/5. Excellent technology is in place to ensure proper sound-scaping.


The Music
We were taken aback when we heard Mandarin oldies played in one of the Clarks outlet.

Control of Music
Despite this outlet being a franchise outlet, the owners played music that they like.
The owners told us that they would usually tune down the music when customers enter.
Their Sound-scape needs to re-adjusted!

Licensing Rights
The owners were aware of the requirement to pay COMPASS for broadcasting music
but they seem deeply apologetic for playing CDs, leaving one to wonder if they did pay COMPASS.

We rate their sound-scape 1 out of 5.
Clark owner needs better understanding that music plays a significant role in affecting the shopping experience.

4. GAP
The Music
The Soundscape is pretty decent in the two outlets we visited.

Music is obtained from the principal store at California
and is generally aligned to the brand.

Control of Music
Staffs are instructed to play only CDs provided by Gap Headquarter.
Music volume is controlled to ensure that the sound-scape is perfect in reflecting
the shop brand.

The staff we spoke to were highly aware of licensing rights
and the need for measures to ensure their sound-scape alight
with the shop brand image.

We rate their sound-scape 4 out of 5.
Staff has excellent knowledge of licensing music rights and music is rather appropriate for shop.

The Music
Rock was the choice for the outlet we visited.
We feel that it is appropriate since Crumpler bags are quite hip and
matches the store layout.

Control of Music
Music was being played via iPods with songs downloaded by the store manager.
As the store manager gets to decide what songs to play,
we suspect that there is no consistent audio strategy set by Crumpler headquarter.

The store manager commented that he has never heard of regulations
requiring shops to pay licensing fees for broadcasting music.

He added that most shops are doing the same by simply playing music from their MP3 players.

We rate their sound-scape 3.5 out of 5. Staff needs better understanding of licensing rights.


The Music
Music was disappointing in one of the LaSenza outlets we visited.
It was almost inaudible and certainly unexciting for a shop
selling bold and seductive lingerie.

The store manager couldn’t provide an answer about the soundscape
when asked upon the type of music usually played in the store.

Control of Music
Each LaSenza outlet receives CDs from the headquarters once in a while.
Staffs are instructed not to play their own music.

Headquarter ensures the proper licensing of music.

We rate their sound-scape 3.5 out of 5.
Music should be played at audible volumes for shoppers. 
Store manager should have better awareness of the music played in stores.

That’s all for now! Stay tune next week to find more about other shopping categories! 
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