Sounds of music at the supermarket; what works?

4/3/2012

In-store music is one of those things that may seem–to a busy grocery manager–a minor or inconsequential part of the customer experience.

Big mistake, says Sumter Cox, a spokesperson for Muzak LLC, a South Carolina company that has been providing background music for retailers since 1937.

“There’s an old saying in retail that dwell time equals sell time,” says Cox. “If people like the music, they’re more likely to stay in your store longer, or shop there again.”

Choosing the right music is not a simple matter. It is, in fact, as much an art as a science, Cox says.

Muzak employs 15 to 20 so called audio architects who compile packages to fit certain program categories–Juke Box Gold, for instance, which is made up of hits from the 1950s and 1960s, which draws on pop tunes from the 1970s through the 2000s.

" We look at music as an element of sensory branding,"  says Cox. “All the senses–the visual, audio and aural–have to be engaged to create a powerful experience for the customer."

Most in-store music arrives pre-packaged from providers like Muzak, nevertheless here are some good vibe, bad vibe tips:

*A well-assembled package flows smoothly from tune to tune, without sharp changes in tempo, volume or genre.

*Avoid repetition. Shoppers will notice and be distracted by three in row from Madonna, for example. Likewise employees will quickly tire of hearing the same tunes over and over.

*Soothing, tranquil music might work at a spa, not in a supermarket. Similarly, classic rock staples like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Santana may be fine in a busy bar and grill, but not in a grocery store that draws attracts a broad clientele. It's best to aim for upbeat, easy listening pop tunes that are familiar to the customer and evoke memories.

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