Monday, July 30, 2012

Beats by Dre Retail Store Visit Disappointment

A few days ago I was up in New York City, so I had to go check out the Beats store. I had seen pictures and heard about the design, but I knew that couldn't compare to to actually checking it out. After looking around, I noticed a few positives, but mostly felt pretty disappointed.

Let's start off with the positives. The best part about the store, hands down, is the location. Located in the bustling streets of lower Manhattan's SoHo district, the Beats store attracts a wide audience as it sits alongside trendy boutiques and upscale national chains. While I was there, there was a sizable amount of people in the store, always a good sign, and although the store is on the small side, it rocks a sleek and edgy look.

Right in the entrance of the store there are about three sets of each of Beats by Dre's Headphones on display for customers to test out. Each headphone is connected to an HTC tablet that has a pre-set list of about 20 songs, mainly being pop or hip-hop.  In addition to the headphones, the store sells a number of t-shirts which incorporate the signature Beats logo. This is a smark marketing staregy and overall nice touch since not only are they exclusive to the store, they also give customers the chance to purchase something even if they already have a Beats Headphone or don't want to shell out hundreds of dollars. At the back of the store, there is a little decked out lounge, complete with stylish chairs, couches and a massive flat screen television. This section of the store is closed off, which seems to me like a complete waste of space since it's only used for special events, which are not frequent. A few days prior to my visit, the store had rapper, Nas, come by for a meet and greet for the release of his new album.

But, like I mentioned at the beginning, despite some of the positive elements, I couldn't help but leave the store disappointed. By no means am I saying that the store has no positives. I simply feel that so much more could be done with the space.

Beats Audio is portrayed as an audio experience. Between the collaborations with HTC, HP, and Chrysler, Beats Audio is creating not only a headphone giant, but a music giant. If they are the music giant they say they are, why does the only Beats retail store in the world only have about 9 Headphones on display? Not only should they should have every Beats products on display, they should also have a number of each in the same way that Apple does it with their stores. I would think that it's just as important to showcase Beats Audio installed products as it is to promote their headphones. So much more could be done to a store that I had such high hopes for. That being the case, here are my ideas for bringing the Beats store from forgettable to unforgettable. 

In order to get the costumers interested from the get-go, I would have a fully-loaded Chrysler with Beats Audio right smack in the middle of the store. This would instantly generate a ton of buzz and excitement since c'mon, there's no way nearly each person that walks through the door won't want to sit inside the car. Next, I would have one section or wall of the store lined up with a variety of Beats Headphones connected to Beats Audio incorporated HP laptops. Lastly, I would have a separate section filled with HTC smart phones. For months now, HTC has spent a ton of money on advertising and marketing tying to make the public believe that Beats Audio makes a difference on a smart phone. Realistically, there's no way people are going to buy this premise if they've never experienced it for themselves. If this partnership wants to succeed, they need to do a better job showing off the Beats difference. It order to do this, I would have a few smart-phone competitors on display as well. By letting the customers compare the Beats phone versus other smart-phones, it would excite customers and could be a small first step in reviving the HTC and Beats by Dre partnership.

With all this said, I know the store was only supposed to be a pop up store for the 2011/2012 Holiday Season, but like I expected, the popularity and success of the store have made them continue to stay open over 6 months later. Now that this store will continue to be long-term fixture of the company, it's time for a major makeover.

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