HMV’s social efforts offer survival chance

HMV is attempting to build a social community within a new format store due to open this weekend in Cambridge, in its latest effort to reverse its struggling fortunes and rebuild its role on the high street.


The store is an evolution of the new format technology focussed stores HMV has been rolling out over the last year and the retailer claims it is its most multi-channel yet, offering its recently launched click and collect service.

HMV says it is a “departure” from its other stores as it will also have a cafe with free wifi and charging points so that customers can make full use of mobile devices and content in store.

A live event space will host free gigs, personal appearances and fan events as well as local art and photo exhibitions while a “community blackboard” area will help local bands promote gigs and events.

The aim is to create an experience that shoppers can’t get online by making the stores more sociable so that customers want to “hang out” there.

The HMV stores that do currently hold fan events and signings are popular and attract scores of music fans that then take away a positive experience of HMV above and beyond buying CDs.

It’s a good branding idea, and once again HMV is doing the right thing to reinvigorate its brand and help reestablish what its role is. Locally it will do wonders for HMV’s brand and will be well received.

This latest social store strategy might not have an immediate impact on sales performance, but if HMV can use this store as a model for the rest of its estate to create a strong in-store experience that draws consumers in, it has some chance of survival in the long term.

For the past three years HMV has been focussed on not going under and its marketing efforts have been clouded by its precarious financial position.

Just last week HMV reported yet another set of poor results posting that like for like sales were down 12% year on year and because HMV’s turnaround has gone on so long with not much improvement in performance, many have given up on it ever being truly successful again and resigned it to the same fate as Woolworths.

But now that it has more financial security – thanks to backing by its suppliers Universal and Sony and an injection of cash from selling off Waterstone’s – its marketing has a better chance of being effective and having a real impact on returning the business to strength.