Post about "entertainment"

Lifestyle Retailing For Entrepreneurial Retailers

How is it that retailers like Urban Outfitters, Anthropology, The Buckle, Aeropostale and Hot Topic seem to be able to defy gravity? In the last several quarters, each of these retailers have very positive posted results in an environment where very few publicly traded retailers posted a comp store increase of any kind. How are these stores able to do what seemingly nobody else can, particularly in the specialty store segment?

Each of these stores is testament to the fact that a strong, focused retailer can succeed spectacularly even in the toughest of economic times. Take Urban Outfitters Inc, which operates Urban Outfitters and Anthropology. Richard Hayne, founder and chairman of the company, has been widely quoted for his belief that “big is the enemy of cool”, and many observers have pointed out that the company would rather open a new concept in proven markets than saturate every last retail corner with new stores. They go on to note that no two stores are alike, that each store is given a great deal of autonomy, and that the company places a premium on execution.

All of these are valuable points to take away from the story, but there’s another lesson to be drawn that’s specifically applicable for any small, entrepreneurial retailer building a successful, sustainable strategy into the future.

Walk into an Urban Outfitters or an Anthropology store and you immediately sense that there’s something very different going on there. They are selling apparel and accessories, that’s obvious as soon as you walk in the door, but there’s also home furnishings and décor, as well as books and knick-knacks, even furniture here and there. Then you notice the store layout, fixturing and décor, the salespeople and the customers… the customers. The customers are the giveaway to this story. This store isn’t so much about stuff as it is about a mindset, an attitude, a lifestyle.

Building a store around an attitude or a lifestyle isn’t necessarily new, but seldom has it been done on the scale and with the impact that you encounter when you walk into these stores. Here you can glimpse the future of retailing in a niche driven, Long Tail world, and in these stores you can immediately grasp the immense potential for small entrepreneurial retailers to extend these concepts around their own particular niche and strategy. It’s been called lifestyle retailing. In fact, the very best small entrepreneurial retailers have been practicing lifestyle retailing for years.

Lifestyle retailing starts from a completely different premise than traditional retailing. It may seem like a bit of a cliché to say that lifestyle retailing is customer-centric, but, as you see when you walk into an Urban Outfitters or an Anthropology store, that truly is the differentiating characteristic.

Traditional retailing starts with the products and services to be offered. This may be the result of an entrepreneur’s particular product expertise, perhaps an entrepreneur’s background in a very specific market. It is product driven, and asks the question, “This is what we sell, who can we sell it to?” Growth is often defined as expanding the customer base, reaching a broader audience, finding more customers to sell to, and is measured most directly by transaction counts.

Lifestyle retailing begins with the attitude and lifestyle itself, and all that it represents. It is, by definition, narrow and exclusive, focused on a very clearly defined niche. It is customer driven, focused on a narrowly defined customer who identifies with the attitude and lifestyle, and aspires to be a part of it. It begins with the question, “These are our customers, what can we offer them that fully represent the lifestyle they aspire to?” Growth is achieved by offering these customers a broad array of offerings, in an almost infinite possible number of categories, and is measured most directly by units per transaction.

In lifestyle retailing, the physical store itself most directly defines the lifestyle, in its décor and ambiance. The store is unique, distinctive and conceptual. It is not merely a presentation of merchandise, it is a carefully considered synergy of space, materials, textures, colors, sounds, and aromas meant to excite the senses. Stepping into the store is to fully immerse oneself in the lifestyle, to experience the lifestyle and all that it represents.

The salespeople extend the experience, with their knowledge, interest and enthusiasm, in the very way that they engage their guests. They are actors on a stage, except this is not acting; for them this is real life. Their dress, hair, manner, speech and vocabulary are an integral part of the experience, for they are the very embodiment of the lifestyle. They interact with customers as they would with intimates, for to be part of the lifestyle is deeply personal. Their customers are part of the group, in a profoundly sociological way.

And within this context, business is transacted. Price is not nearly as significant an issue as in other retail strategies, because customers aren’t merely buying merchandise, they’re participating in the community, in the lifestyle. Assortments are often broad and shallow rather than narrow and deep because the lifestyle is the driver, and new items are the key to frequent visits and units per transaction. The merchandise itself may seem to be highly discretionary, but in fact is as essential as bread and milk because it is so closely linked to the customer’s sense of identity. It is, by definition, a fashion business.

As the retail landscape fragments between large-scale corporate retailing descending further into price-driven commoditization of mass market merchandise, and each consumer’s desire for things they treasure as a reflection of their individual interests, lifestyle and identity, the opportunity for entrepreneurial retailers is clear. A retail strategy built and marketed passionately around a personally held, clearly defined lifestyle or interest is the path to building a powerful retail presence and a very successful business.

A Brief History of Home Entertainment

The concept of home entertainment and indoor recreational activities changed when home electronics invaded our lives. One can say that access to numerous electronic products at home has revolutionized the idea of what constitutes a complete home entertainment. Nowadays, anyone can have immediate access to every kind of electronic entertainment via different media within the comforts of their homes. They can have their choice of entertainment which may range from the latest DVD players, radios to the wireless internet connection which offers them the convenience of mobility. Advancement in technology has gifted us with loads of home entertainment options ranging from radio, television, CD, DVD players, home theatre system, games consoles and so on.Music has always been one of the most preferred leisure activities. It found its way into our home through the long playing discs and the gramophone. Of course with the coming of radio a decade later made music a more widespread home entertainment. Before the advent of the CD or DVD player, the radio was the most popular home entertainment system available. Though there were some juke boxes available in the local pubs or salons where one could listen to a song of their choice at home there was only the radio. With radio, the choice of listening was however quite limited as people had to listen to the songs that the radio channels would play, even though some of the stations would at times play the selected numbers based on listeners’ requests. But there were no complaints as there wasn’t anything better for decades to come.Initially, when television had not yet become an everyday part of our lives, the visual entertainment strictly meant those theatres which had large screens to view a movie. Things changed dramatically with the invention of the television in the initial phase of the 1950s. The television was a complete wonder in the days when it was discovered. People did not have to restrict themselves anymore to music as their only entertainment at home. They could actually watch a full length movie in the comfort of their own home.Not only movies, this small wonder box started entertaining people with more and more new ideas, programs and techniques. Television has been considered as one of the pioneers in the history of home visual entertainment. Of course it provided more than just entertainment. With news and special documentaries, TV soon became the most important source of amusement. The long playing discs were also a part of home entertainment which was an early discovery. While radios, LPs and television made a permanent place in everyone’s home, the quality of sound in those times essentially required tremendous development.Good sound systems and speakers stared to develop in the mid 1970s. Various technologies were discovered to enhance the quality of sound. And with the music genres like rock, pop and discos coming into being, there was a specific and urgent requirement for good quality sound systems. Thus the electronic giants did not stop producing recorders and put more emphasis on amplifying and equalizing the sound to give it a new dimension.Good quality sound systems were specially designed and created for homes which produced outstanding music. Woofers and subwoofers along with various amplifiers equalizers and multi channel audio were being used to produce crisp stereophonic sounds.However, this concept took a back seat when CD and DVD players came into existence. During the end of the ’70s and early ’80s some of the electronic giants worked in collaboration to develop the world’s first Compact Disc system. Experts proved that this CD player was quite compact and lightweight with its unique durability. For music lovers it was truly a boon. At the same time this CD system opened a new window in the audio equipment industry.Compact discs were more durable than any other long playing discs or tapes. Thus the CDs removed all other music disc and tapes from the market and held prominent position. The 80s and early 90s saw a vast improvement in the technology of compact disc systems. It became very popular with people because of the crystal clear sound it produced and was affordable. These CDs not only stored music, it was versatile enough to store movies, data, pictures or even software.Along with CDs a much improved device which actually revolutionized and changed the entire system of home entertainment is the DVD or digital versatile discs. These discs are powerful and large enough to hold two movies in one. It stores data digitally and is more durable. The scratch proof technology of the DVD players also makes the DVDs last a long time. Both music and movie buffs felt delighted when the DVD player came into the market. Recent survey statistics reveal that the DVD player is the most successful product of home entertainment. It was introduced in the year 1997 and has reached great heights of success ever since.Nowadays, people can have the same effect of a movie theatre in their homes. With the latest DVD players, LCD screens and the sound systems with woofers, sub woofers and multi channel audio systems, anyone can have a fantastic home entertainment system with high quality sound and spectacular visual effects. The plasma and LCD screens are high resolution televisions which started to develop in the latter half of the 1990s and these sleek televisions enabled the viewers to experience digital sound and vision with fantastic picture quality and various advanced features.With the invention of DVDs and a major development in the visual media such as Plasma and Liquid Crystal Display or LCD in the late 90s gave home entertainment its latest technical dimension. With it, the meaning of home entertainment changed significantly with more and more people installing the home theatre systems with newest gadgets and technologies.