Retail Marketing Report on American Eagle vs. Pacific Sunwear


The goal of my report is to examine and compare the store environments of American Eagle and Pacific Sunwear. For each store I examined the fit of music in terms of each store’s merchandise, shopper type, and store image. Music is a vital part of a store’s environment; it is essential for creating a desirable atmosphere. I took a closer look at how well American Eagle and Pacific Sunwear utilize music in their stores.


The mall that I visited was 12 Oaks in Novi, Michigan. I first visited American Eagle around 6:30pm and later on around 7:15pm visited Pacific Sunwear until around 8pm. I went on Thursday, January 27th. I spent approximately 45 minutes in each store and spoke with a store employee at each location in order to gain valuable insight.


American Eagle American Eagle is a young person’s store. Their target age range is 16-25 year old males and females (AE Employee). AE is primarily targeting high school and college age students. There is a fairly even female to male shopper ratio with slightly more females. According to AE’s store employee, the type of clothing sold is considered trendy, but comfortable. It’s very versatile; you can dress it up or down. Many items have a destroyed wash look. When you walk in the store, the female clothing is on the left and the male clothing on the right. The registers are on the right wall of the store midway back amongst the male clothing. The lighting is bright and light colors are used all around the store including: white, cream, and wood tones. The clothing around the store incorporates a variety of colors. There is a flat screen TV at the back of the store to draw you deeper in. The TV displays AE college radio music videos.

American Eagle’s music is called AE College Radio. Music plays a large role in the AE consumer’s life, “We celebrate with music, we chill out with music, we create with music, we shop with music. It expresses who we are” (AE College Radio). AE let’s their customers pick the music by playing a variety of different school’s radio station playlists from around the country. The result is a “Diverse and rockin’ mix of old school favorites and new discoveries” (AE College Radio). There is a song for everyone.

According to a store employee, the college playlist includes: up and coming artists that are not very well known yet, Indie, oldies, and a few top 40 hits. The music is primarily targeted towards the middle of the age range of 18 to 22 year olds. A few examples of songs played: Bigger Than Us by White Lies, Boyz by M.I.A., and Get Guilty by A.C. Newman. The music is considered upbeat, with an energetic tone to it. The volume was midlevel. Some of the music videos played feature the store’s clothing along with the brand’s name “American Eagle” thrown in the video somewhere, such as the front of the boat in the video clip example.

While I was in the store two different groups of shoppers came in. The first group consisted of two females. They were early twenties in age. They made their way to the back of the store to look at the clearance items along with various new female clothing items in the store. They stopped to touch many items; however they left after about six minutes without purchasing anything. The second group of shoppers consisted of eight females around the age of 15. They browsed the accessories and nothing else. They did not look or feel the clothes nor did they make it all the way to the back of the store. They left after 8 or so minutes and also did not buy anything. Pacific Sunwear

Pacific Sunwear has a wide range of customers. According to a store employee they range from 12 to 40 years old with the majority in the high school and college age range. The ratio of shoppers is about 60% male and 40% female (PacSun Employee).

PacSun can be described as cool with something for everyone according to a store employee. They have numerous styles of clothing including: hipster and west coast. The store has darker lighting with dark pebble print tiling. The predominant colors used in the store are orange, light blue, and gray. The vibe is mellow and laid back. “PacSun remains true to its roots, bringing the hottest brands, lifestyle apparel, accessories, sunglasses, footwear and skateboards to youth. And, the authentic action sports theme lives large in all we do-as does our culture of creativity, team spirit and passion” (About Us PacSun). PacSun offers a large variety of items.

The male section is found on the left side of the store and the female section on the right. The registers are found in the middle of the store between the male and female sections towards the back of the store just before the shoe wall. The wall of unique shoes at the back of the store is what draws customers deeper into the store. They are not the average offerings found in most shoe stores of simple plain shoes; they are rather unique in style and print.

Before making it back to the shoe wall customers encounter many separate displays of clothing. The store clusters their tables by shopper type and style of clothing style. Customers can create an outfit in their particular style from the offerings on a particular table’s display; examples include: hipster, motocross, and dirt bike.

The music played in the store can be said to have something for everyone and includes hipster, new school, and older songs too (PacSun Employee). Some examples of the bands played in the store are: Bayside, Cirque de' Survive, Minus the Bear, and No Doubt. Their playlist includes 400 different songs in a variety of genres.

While in the store there was a young couple in their early 20s that made a purchase, a mother with a young girl around 14 years old and a boy around 8 years old. The mother purchased items as well, however it was unclear who they were for. There were also two girls around the age of 18 browsing the female clothing that did not make a purchase.

The store offers a lot of unique clothing to choose from, however they have less colors in each style. There is a wide variety of styles of clothing and accessories. Pacific Sun caters to many different types of shoppers.


American Eagle and Pacific Sunwear both do an excellent job with the fit of music for those particular stores. The volume of music for both stores was adequate. American Eagle’s volume could have been slightly higher in order to hear it better, especially upon entering the store from the main mall hallway. The music in the mall was louder. The most important aspect of music is the preference for the background music; the customer has to like the song regardless of the volume or tempo of it. Both stores said they offer a variety of songs which is a smart move so more people will be satisfied with the musical selection offered. The more people happy the better.

It is slightly risky to play unknown artists and both stores do this, which could potentially hurt them. Especially since the vast majority of American Eagle’s customers are typical American teenagers and college students who mostly listen to top 40 hits. It would be a cool feature to let the shoppers request songs while in store to listen to while they are shopping. Underneath the AE College Radio flat screen TV could be a touch screen that allows customers to select songs from the playlist. This could be a fun feature for those high school students out to socialize and have fun in stores while shopping.

PacSun does a good job at having a wide range of music for their various niches of customers. However, if a customer were to enjoy a particular song there is no way to know the artist or title without having to track down a store employee and hope that when you ask them that they actually know the information. AE does a better job at informing the customers of the title and artist of songs. I especially think that they made a smart decision making the back wall sitting area of their store. Many people come into stores looking for deals, so AE placed their clearance section at the back of the store which was a wise move to draw people in. They also placed a few oversized leather chairs and matching couch right outside the dressing rooms in front of the TV for those people brought in with the customer who need a place to wait. Overall, American Eagle does a better job at incorporating music into their store most appropriately and even utilizing it to get the customer to the back of the store so they are able to see all of the merchandise.

The music in both stores fits fairly well in terms of shopper type; however AE has a better grasp of their shopper type to music. They like music videos, upbeat fun music to dance around to in the dressing rooms and to try on clothes feeling happy, imagining that particular outfit being worn out at a party or on a date. The store’s image fits well with their shopper type and the music played compliments them as well. The merchandise can be worn for most occasions, dressed up or down. The music fits best with the relaxed, fun, party occasions that American Eagle displays.


American Eagle and Pacific Sunwear both do an above average job with their music. They both offer a large variety, PacSun more so than AE due to their larger range of clientele. AE surpasses PacSun in their flat screen TV display of music videos along with titles of songs and their artists. AE smartly made their TV area into a mini waiting area for friends of shoppers who are waiting, a great feature that many stores do not offer that is greatly appreciated by shoppers’ companions. Overall, American Eagle does a better job showcasing and connecting music to their customers in a fun and unique way.


“About Us.” PacSun. Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., n.d. Web.

“AE College Radio.” Pandora. Pandora Media, Inc., n.d. Web.

AE Store Employee. Personal Interview.

PacSun Store Employee. Personal Interview.

Marketing ; Stores ; Companies

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