We live in a noisy world. And shopping is one of our noisy everyday experiences.
There are great opportunities for brands to create a differentiating sonic footprint that can be holistically implemented throughout various consumer touchpoints, such as advertising, product usage, in-store etc. In order words, sound can be used to inject differentiating associations into a brand.
This is all well and good. But the downside is that too many stores deliberately crank up the volume with the objective of creating a frenzied environment in which people want to spend money. The lack of empathy shown by these stores results in a lot of people getting stressed and uneasy while trying to shop.
I have personally on many occasions had to leave too noisy stores empty-handed and sometimes I’ve had to even abandon certain brands for excluding people like me with their blasting loud, club-like ambience. I can understand that some stores wish to create energy through music, but the way some go to such extremes feel unacceptable.
There are people who prefer peace and quiet. There are those with hearing problems. Those with a sensitivity to loud noise. There are elders who get stressed out by loud music. There are kids and youngsters whose hearing is at odds when the music is too loud. In fact, there are tons of people who are not comfortable with loud noise in stores.
You might say that some brands target a trendy youth segment with an affinity for a loud, energetic store environment. Firstly, you might actually overestimate the degree to which they prefer it that way. Consider the fact that a lot of young people wear earplugs to clubs and concerts. Going to a clothing store will not be associated with an environment that needs earplugs so they won’t bring any with them and will instead have to feel stressed and uncomfortable while trying on clothes. Furthermore, a hip store’s trendy target customers have siblings, parents, grandparents and other relatives. They may well be demotivated shopping for gifts if they are to be terrorized by loud noise as soon as they set foot in the store. It appears to be a pretty unwise move by the brands involved. It would be interesting to understand how they came to the conclusion that cranked-up volume was the way to go.
When it comes to shopping malls, is the particular store to blame or is it rather the shopping mall management that should implement and enforce noise guidelines, setting the maximum sound level allowed in stores? I would say that the shopping mall should ensure that any brand it houses does not go to extremes with their sound systems.
Granted, even with a noise regulation in place, it will be difficult to find a level that leaves all shoppers feeling relaxed and comfortable when wanting to spend their money. A great idea would be to, at least once a month, offer shoppers either a full-day or an evening of Quiet Shopping. NO music allowed in any stores throughout the entire mall. This will be a wonderful opportunity for shoppers to walk through an entire shopping mall in a soothingly calm and quiet environment.
Quiet Shopping. All-day Quiet Shopping. Quiet Night. Relaxing Shopping. Hush Night. The name alternatives are many. The core idea is to show empathy and love to all those customers who wish to be able to shop without the blasting, unnerving music.
If a shopping mall would do this once a month, then that shouldn’t be too much to ask for from the stores involved. And it would probably create extensive media coverage and be welcomed by a lot of financially strong shoppers. If you read this and you are working at a shopping mall, please spread the word at your office and start brainstorming such an initiative.
The question is, does this maybe already exist somewhere in the world? If you know about a mall where you live that does something similar, please drop us a line so that we can write about and celebrate that initiative.
Shopping malls of the world. Please, create some room for shoppers who crave a soothing and relaxing shopping experience. You are bound to be financially rewarded for such an inclusive and warm-hearted activity.
Photo: Aleksej Leonov