Christmas time comes around faster and faster each year. The sales and decorations seem to be starting earlier too. We’ve heard some reports of decorations even going up in some stores as early as October.
The old Christmas point of sales strategies that worked in the past, don’t necessarily produce the same response in subsequent years.
– extra bright and bold sales signs
– token tinsiltown decorations
– festive staff outfits
AND how can we forget those monotonous Christmas Carols and Festive songs. The ones that don’t leave your head until two months after Christmas.
Retailers face more pressures that directly impact the bottom line as a result of increased local competition, online shops and rising running costs. Doing the same old thing just because your neighbour or competitor says it’s the way to go is a surefire way to being just another retail clone, instead of creating a uniquely empowering customer experience.
Customers do not need anymore reasons to boycott traditional shops entirely for the online alternative.
It’s all too common for shops to switch on the Christmas carols too early and too frequently. Research commissioned by Evolved Sound has found that if Christmas carol music is played back to back non stop, you’re more than likely to turn some shoppers away and even drive them insane! This can’t be good for your sales and profitability in this critical business period.
Remember, there are two main types of shoppers during Christmas time:
– Those that are highly stressed, time poor who must wrap up 20+ plus gifts in the fastest possible time.
– Those embracing the festive season with a fantastic spirit. They will be undertaking more mindful shopping, and actually enjoy the Christmas Carols they hear, and not feel stressed by all the fanfare that goes with the festive season.
Let’s not generalise too much, but you probably know which category yourself and the people you know fall into. More importantly, if you run a business it isn’t too hard to realise where most of your target customers fit.
It’s the highly stressed out and time poor customers which we must be most mindful of. This is particularly the case if you want them to enjoy the experience, shop more and return many more times.
When playing Christmas carols in shops you must also consider the staff. They are often the ones undertaking much longer than average shifts during the December period and will be a lot more frustrated than customers if your Christmas music isn’t hitting the right note. The average customer may only spend 5 or 10 minutes in a shop, compared to full time staff – at least 6 to 8 hours per day!
Some say who cares about the staff, because all that matters is the customers. This school of running a business may have worked 20 years ago too…
In considering your staff it is particularly important that you have a much greater pool of quality and alternative sounding Christmas Carol songs. If you play the wrong songs on high repeat, staff are guaranteed to become more tense as a result of what they are hearing. In some cases these negative vibes will also translate to the end customer experience. Consequently, the topic of which in store music is best during Christmas time needs to take into account a myriad of business centric factors.
You need to strike that happy balance of keeping your customers, staff, managers and business owners ALL happy. If you upset one or multiple stakeholders in the chain, the business impact will be detrimental and measurably worse.
If you’re thinking about incorporating Christmas Music into your store, Evolved Sound recommends:
1- The Christmas jingle music is not played back to back, but rather mixed in amongst the regular store playlist. For example if your shop normally plays contemporary background music, then we would recommend mixing in your Xmas music around four times per hour or only after every two to four songs on average. The exception to this rule would be if you actually run a Christmas supplies shop or music shop focused on Christmas music for example, then playing such music is completely within the ethos of the business.
2- The style and type of Christmas music selected should be directly in line with your brand and what your target market prefers to hear. If you don’t clearly know this you may need to undertake independent research or engage a specialist in-store music company to point you in the right direction.
For example if during the year you normally play dance music in your shop, then your careful selection of Xmas music should be that of the dance or faster remixed versions only.
3- With so much Christmas music out there, another useful tip is to incorporate a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks. Not the same old classics, as it’s best to mix and mash it up so to speak. We all like variety from time to time, so spice it up and make it sound fresh, happening and now.
4- Play volume is another important aspect. Music should not be overpowering and give you a headache. Generally the ideal volume is low, but still audible so you have hear yourself think and continue to do what you have to do as normal.
With this all said it still may be best for some shops to play NO Christmas whatsoever. An example case would be those shops targeting a youth or niche demographic. If your target customers aren’t already loading Xmas music in their car or Ipod as their favourites – chances are they don’t want to hear it in the shops they frequent either.
Australia is an example of a secular society. There are more atheists than ever before, and multiculturalism trend are only heading one way. While the masses do celebrate and embrace Christmas, there are many that don’t celebrate it at all, and are actually personally offended and drawn away by such religiously vocal compositions . Some other parts of the world like New York are more embracing of different cultures this time of the year, with a more balanced and considered approach to festive decorations and music played.
Report from The Age newspaper: Frazzled shoppers would prefer a silent night
Channel Seven Today Tonight : Stores slammed over Xmas carols