Shops switch off the muzak

Marketing: retailers are improving customer communications by buying in services from professional radio

THE days of in-store "muzak" are numbered, if entertainment and broadcasting group Chrysalis has its way. The company last week launched Chrysalis Retail Entertainment, capitalising on its broadcasting expertise to offer better audio and video entertainment to retailers, pubs, hotels and even garages.

In-store entertainment has become as important as layout, design and lighting to create an environment conducive to selling. According to industry estimates, just under half of Britain's 200,000 commercial premises have some sort of in-store music: ranging from a cassette compiled by a local manager to a full-scale in-store radio station, such as Asda FM. Around 70,000 outlets are licensed by Phonographic Performance, the body that administers music copyright, to play some form of prerecorded music.

"Retailing is becoming much more competitive, dynamic and segmented as retailers compete harder to get people into their stores and communicate with them more effectively," says Trevor Morse, head of strategy at Chrysalis Radio. As well as putting shoppers into the right mood, in-store entertainment can also promote specific products, highlight promotions or carry paid- for advertising - both for own products and third-party brands.

It is a business regarded by many as ripe for development. Just last month, AEI Rediffusion Music announced a joint venture with Music Choice Europe to provide a satellite broadcast service offering four music-only stations for British retailers. However, most of the services that exist involve a mix of music, speech and commercial messages.

BhS has operated BhS Radio for a year. The in-store station is aimed at women with a mix of music, entertainment and product information and promotions. "The aim is to run BhS Radio just like a real radio station, carefully limiting and managing promotions on-air," says Simon Kleine, head of corporate communications at BhS. The station is broadcast in half of the chain's 130 outlets and will be available in all next year.

BhS Radio is supplied by Retail Broadcast Services, an in-store programming specialist that also runs tailored radio stations for Texas and Granada, which is in the middle of a three-month trial. Output is mainly pre-recorded, with music selected to match customers' tastes and moods at different times of the day. Music is scheduled randomly by computer, with pre-recorded DJ talk.

RBS also works with Virgin, which last year introduced VFM, an in-store station for Virgin Megastores. "In-store radio offers an invaluable showcase for customers at point of sale," says Clinton Barr, the VFM co-ordinator. VFM is a live service with music, competitions and promotions.

"In-store radio is no longer a matter of saying 'Here's the next record, and by the way ladies, check out the lingerie department'," says Samantha Cann, the RBS production manager. Instead, it is increasingly resembling the standards of professional radio broadcasters, she adds. That is why Mr Morse at Chrysalis describes the launch of CRE as "a logical move". He said: "It's about customer targeting through the traditional skills of music programming, day parting and formatting." CRE will utilise Chrysalis's experience in running two commercial radio stations (Heart 100.7 in the west Midlands and Heart 106.2 in London) adapting broadcast skills to ensure programming is sympathetic to a particular retail environment and reflects brand values.

Mr Morse says there is significant potential for growth among retailers not using in-store entertainment, among those only using tapes and with others who use in-store radio only in selected branches. "Consistency and control will become increasingly important," he says. "An unco-ordinated approach is bad for a retail chain trying to present a strong, unified brand image."

CRE has been built from the foundations of a long-standing Chrysalis subsidiary, MAM Communication Systems, which is primarily a hardware supplier of entertainment systems to shops. In its new guise, the division will place a greater emphasis on offering a strategic and marketing-led consultancy service, including tailored audio and audio visual programming.

The company is now working with clients including Tie Rack and Harvester restaurants. However, Chrysalis will not have the field clear for long. Virgin and Capital Radio are also considering the potential.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there