The innovative technology for many of today’s in-store sound systems has taken the play away from employees. Too often, workers were popping the CDs they liked into the system rather than considering shoppers’ tastes or the retailers’ strategies. But Diesel, the retailer of hip Eurowear, actively solicits suggestions from its sales associates on what tunes to play in its stores.
Niall Maher, Diesel’s director, retail merchandising, says there’s an overlap between his company’s customers and its sales associates. “It’s not so much demographic as it is psychographic,” he says. “Both groups are open-minded, love fashion, have an independent and personal approach to style, a sense of humor and irony, are inspired by innovation and tend to be actively interested in new art, film, design and music.”
Consequently, Diesel invites its store associates to e-mail song suggestions to their managers. Those titles are then forwarded to PlayNetwork Inc. (Redmond, Wash.), the retailer’s third-party provider of in-store music.
Typically, employee suggestions wind up accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the songs on the CD-ROMs that PlayNetwork distributes monthly to 36 of Diesel’s more than 50 stores. The remaining selections are made by PlayNetwork senior music programmer Sean Horton, who bases his choices on Diesel’s marketing objectives for a given month and the retailer’s ongoing desire to create an energized retail environment.
While Diesel solicits musical input from its workers up front, PlayNetwork still makes sure workers can’t mess with the mix once it’s been finalized by corporate. “We send the music programming out on CD-ROMs [CDs with read-only memories], to be immediately loaded to our media player’s hard drive, which allows us to encrypt the songs on them for licensing and playback security,” notes Horton.
Audio: PlayNetwork, Redmond, Wash.
Photography: Phillip Angert, New York