Saturday, 19 January 2013

'No Noise' Shopping Experience

More and more people are shopping online in the comfort of their home so retailers have to rethink their conventional way of engaging with us. It's all about getting to know our habits and lifestyle in order to attain an ageless goal: making us spend our money. So is the No Noise initiative, promoted by London's department store Selfridges, just a cynical approach to our well-being?  

No Noise initiative and de-branded items at Selfridges
500-strong mass meditation in the middle of Selfridges' beauty hall for the launching
of 'No Noise'. De-branded items. (Photos by Stuart Wilson/ Getty Images)

Luxury retail emphasises a personal relationship with customers, encouraging sales consultants to develop faithful clients and provide the ultimate shopping experience. But high street retailers, some making as much money as the luxury sector, have gone in the opposite direction promoting a "do it yourself" attitude, with hardly anyone in sight to assist you in huge spaces overloaded with merchandise. 

But they do have something in common: bright lights and highly repetitive loud music. They help creating an exciting atmosphere where customers enjoy themselves and get carried away by spending more than they would otherwise. Luckily, we are much less responsive to these stimuli and most of us will agree that the whole experience has become not only overwhelming but also unpleasant.

'Quiet Shop' at Selfridges
The 'Quiet Shop' offers a capsule collection of unique de-branded items
(photo by Stuart Wilson/ Getty Images)

In an era when materialism is revealing itself as an ingenious deceiver, people are more and more concerned about their well-being. So retailers have no other choice but to catch up with us. In the dialogue between brands and consumers, we have the last word even if we don't realise it yet. So it is highly refreshing to see Selfridges acknowledging our needs by promoting moments of peace and tranquillity in store.

'No Noise' is a multi-layered initiative centring around the re-launch of the legendary Silence Room, first created by the store's visionary founder Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. The purpose of this room remains the same: to provide an oasis of quiet for those eager to take a moment to pause and switch off. According to Tatler magazine, it's not totally sound-proof but it fulfils its relaxing function and even discourages spending!   

Silence Room, Selfridges
Silence Room designed by architect Alex Cochrane
(photo by Stuart Wilson/ Getty Images)

Shoes, mobile phones and 21st century distractions need to be left behind, a recognition of how our lives are being disrupted by the intensive use of technology. This initiative, running until the end of February, includes a curated 'Quiet Shop', celebrating the beauty of a minimalist aesthetic and focusing on a product's quality and function rather than packaging or advertised image.

Headspace pods spread throughout the store deliver mindful messages and induce meditation practice. I wonder if staff can also enjoy this initiative as they are probably the ones who need it most... But even If you see behind the curtain, this is definitely a victory for consumers and an example to follow by other retailers. Whenever we spend our money we should be more demanding and make sure retailers give something back.

No Noise, Selfridges
'No Noise' window display at Selfridges
(photo by Stuart Wilson /Getty Images)

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