I bought my first single on vinyl - Too Much Too Young by The Specials - in the 1970s and today I subscribe to Apple Music. So I’ve got no reason to frequent physical music stores. But I still enjoy consuming music at live gigs or festivals - just as I did in the 70s.
So what can bricks & mortar retailers learn from the live music scene, which continues to win the hearts and minds of music lovers? It’s time to adopt a more rock ’n roll approach to retail.
“A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It’s a theatrical event,” said Freddie Mercury.
Evoking and stirring people’s emotions through theatrics creates a more powerful experience and lasting memories - a must for live gigs, and imperative for physical stores. There’s an algorithm adopted by retailers, to make everything easier, to remove pain points. However there’s no algorithm to stir shoppers’ emotions.
Think venues, not format. British supermarkets need to think of their stores as a performance space. Our counterparts in the US do this well: dairy store Stew Leonard’s, in Connecticut, has been named the ‘Disneyland’ of stores. Animatronic brand mascots dance in the aisles, the automated milk factory shows shoppers how produce is made and packed, and the café even features a petting zoo. The store draws in customers from farther afield than they might do because people will travel to experience it. Stew Leonard’s claims to have achieved the greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the US.
The genius of live music gigs is that they deliver an unforgettable experience. Stores of all kinds need to have much more modulated and fluctuating energy levels to drive the tempo and pace, and keep customers coming back for more. Brands and retailers have the ability to develop both a high-emotional point in the shopping experience and deliver a strong, defined conclusion. The opportunities are boundless for supermarkets to add emotional peaks to an experience. Retailers can and must learn to be the conductor, audio-visual artist, filmmaker, pyro-technician and choreographer all in one.
Alasdair Lennox is executive creative director EMEA at Fitch