Assessing the Fopp Brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.

Brand ****

From modest beginnings in 1981 as a one-man record stall in Glasgow, Fopp has become one of the fastest-growing music retail businesses in the UK, with a chain of 27 stores across the country. As so many traditional record shops have disappeared, gone online or evolved into ‘entertainment stores’, focusing on new releases and bestsellers, Fopp is a return to a real music store with an extensive back catalogue, as well as a large choice of DVDs.

Experience *****

The Fopp motto is ‘keep things simple’, and that comes across in the clean and simple store layout, with plenty of open space for browsing, minimal in-store sales messages and racks ordered logically by music genre. Fopp staff are knowledgeable and take time to assist customers, and a customer order service is available. The company’s customer base is extremely loyal, and often musically educated. The atmosphere is enhanced by good in-store music (staff know their music and don’t just play the latest big seller). Having simple price points at £5, £8, £10, etc helps browsing and encourages multi-purchase. The café is a good standard, if very similar to ones you find in bookshops.

Product ****

The range is extensive and well-presented. Unlike many high-street retailers, it discounts back catalogue and new releases and presents themed displays (e.g. grunge, folk, or by band) and unusually you can find more obscure bands at discount prices (how many other stores would discount Throbbing Gristle or a section on Hydra Head?). The DVDs are presented as simply and as effectively as the CDs, with many very good offers, presented at the same price points for ease of browsing. There are some books and T-shirts, but compared to the thought put into music and film, these seem sparse and irrelevant.

Value Positioning ****

For the very latest hot CD or DVD, you may find it cheaper online or in a supermarket, but for overall value across back catalogue and new releases Fopp offers very enticing prices. But Fopp is not a store you would just go to buy one CD or DVD because of the price, it is a place where you pick up a range of products and have an enjoyable experience.


– Terminals would aid browsing (not everyone knows that Green Day are filed under West Coast Punk)

– Provide a bigger range of books, offering more music and film books in particular to give the range some credibility

– Make the cafe more ‘Fopp’-branded: noticeboards, terminals, screens, etc, to enhance the music/film environment

– Other than that, don’t tinker with the formula too much – it works!

Overall: ****

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