We now have a good understanding how music can impact on our shopping behaviour. We understand how music can stir emotions or bring back memories, how it can influence the speed in which we travel through a store, how it can contextualize or display a product and tell its story. Yes, in order to do this is must be very targeted, very specific in its execution. For instance John Williams Star Wars theme behind the Lego Star Wars products would work exceptionally well in this scenario, or a music box in the nursery furniture department. Although switched on retailers would recognise this as an effective technique, managing the process can be challenging. For instance, spill or noise pollution of one display into adjacent display, or worse still, a cacophony or distorted music playing from two areas, heard by an unfortunate customer between the two.
So how do you deal with this conundrum? Leading Retail Consultant Corin Birchall, set about to address this.
Northampton Garden Centre, is one of the UK’s leading and best established garden centres. Renowned not only for their exceptional range of garden products this top performing member of the garden centre group is able to enjoy business almost 12 months of the year, through its ever increasing collection of concessions and its impressive Christmas Displays. From 5th October, gazebo’s, garden furniture and BBQ’s are replaced by elaborate Christmas themes, spectacular collections of artificial christmas trees and a dazzling collection of fairy lights. Christmas for Woodlands is big business and maximising its potential can be the difference between a successful year or not.
Until this year, Northampton and other members of the garden centre group had used Christmas music served as an audio wallpaper. Seasonally but generic. However, the themes and room sets they created with their visual merchandising teams were exceptional. How could we use music to help enhance this displays and stir our emotions with audio without sabotaging adjacent displays with audio pollution? or creating an awful discorded cacophony between the two displays as you heard both various music sources.
Corin explains. “As I saw it we had a few options, we could use zonal speakers that limited the music to a very specific area, although this solution would be expensive, and would run the risk of bringing the audio into peoples consciousness rather than keeping it below their level or consciousness, which was the desired goal. Another option was to create music that had various audio feeds, as you experience on your surround sound TVs or cinematic surround sounds at home. Given the low cost of entry for this solution, ie, a simple surround system for about £100, we opted for this route.
The VM teams at Northampton had a very specific brief. There four adjacent displays were a vegetable garden, a Christmas Scottish tartan theme, a Frozen garden theme and a Children's theme. For most of these, there were specific musical reference that could be made ie, the scottish theme would feature bagpipes and military drummers, the frozen garden would feature bells and choirs. The children's scene would feature glockenspiels and xylophones. Potentially the most challenging was the vegetable garden, which after some experimentation, would go on to feature brass instruments like the Ground Force TV theme and the addition of sound effects of birds.
The job was now to create a piece of music that could be heard across all four areas, however, as you enter each zone, you would hear a slightly different mix of the song, ie, featuring the reference instruments bagpipes, glockenspiels, or choirs for instance. Corin oversaw the music production of this and the unique arrangement using all four audio feeds. The production was finally mixed and mastered to a DVD and allowed to be played on a standard DVD player. Technically 5 feeds could have been recorded plus a subwoofer feed and surround sound could now go to 7.1, but 4 is more than enough for this experiment. Initially 3 sounds were recorded as it was quite time consuming, We wish you a merry christmas, Carol of the bells and Jingle Bells. After testing the recording a situ, we recognise that we were able to make the references even more direct and re-recorded the tract accordingly. The result was a phenomenal success. Four themes in close proximity of one another, with very subtle, but specific musical references to help contextualize their products. Investment by the store – £99 for a DVD player.