Assessing the HMV 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.

HMV ***

Brand ***

The HMV brand is trusted, well known, and easily accessible with 223 stores in UK and Ireland. The brand has retained its strong `tried and trusted’ image, but for how long? HMV needs to stay ahead of trends and redefine the brand for a new generation of multimedia users. Since its disastrous Christmas last year, HMV has improved with more competitive offers and an improved website. But with new competitors like Fopp, Amazon, itunes and supermarkets creaming off the best sellers, what does HMV have to offer?

Experience ***

HMV is an Aladdin’s cave of entertainment products with a full range of CDs, DVDs and games. A little dark and dingy, it appeals to the young male and not generally to older shoppers or women. Staff are knowledgeable and always prepared to give advice. The end of aisle racks provide opportunities for impulse buying, but also mean that there is little to stimulate the casual visitor. One vital flaw is the fact that there are few opportunities to experience the products via interactive means – there are not enough listening posts, screens or games stations.

Product ****

The store and website will provide you with almost any DVD, CD or game required. However, the CDs are presented in the stores much the same way as they were 20 years ago and the overall theme appears tired. More imagination is required in merchandising; either more creativity or simplicity (like Fopp) is needed.

The increased space devoted to films and games is a welcome improvement that enables HMV to position itself as an all round entertainment store rather than just a music store.

Value Positioning ***

A year ago HMV was less competitive than it is now. New promotional initiatives along with clearer pricing have enabled HMV to compete more effectively with the supermarkets and the internet. However both Amazon and Tesco are able to undercut HMV on best selling items.


1. Create more of a ‘HMV store experience’ by adding personal touches (opportunities to listen to, play and view the products).
2. Co-ordinate special offers to get away from the ‘bargain bin’ feel (theme by artist or genre for example).
3. Rethink how the product is presented – simplify or add some creative touches.
4. Clearly segment special interest sections in smaller stores.

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