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As most of you know, I am a huge fan of Chipotle. I am normally eat there at least once or twice a week. I have made friends with everyone on staff at the location I go to, and I usually don’t even have to place my order. They normally start preparing my burrito when I walk into the restaurant. I’m that predictable. It’s pretty amazing.
Of course, some of you shudder, wondering why I wouldn’t save some money and pack a lunch from home. Two reasons. First, I use it as a forced downtime from work, which allows me to declutter my mind. Secondly, my wife typically purchases gift cards online from Cardpool with some amazing discounts. So it’s not a huge cost savings for me to bring lunch from home. Plus, I love devouring those delicious Chorizo burritos.
Music at Chipotle
While I’m dining at Chipotle, I’m pretty focused in on enjoying my burrito. But recently, I’ve noticed that the background music has been very eclectic. One song might be a folksy song, while the next is an uptempo instrumental. I’ve always wondered how they choose the music that they use.
So then, I started thinking about why retail stores pipe in music. There has to be a reason other than to eliminate the doldrum of silence in the store.
Chipotle actually hires Studio Orca, a company that creates music for hospitality and retail businesses. Chris Golub, the founder of Studio Orca says, “What our company does is, what I like to call, creating a musical identity. We’re sourcing out unique material that has a freshness about it and a sense of place, if you will.” Needless to say, he has definitely created that type of environment at Chipotle.
Music & Psychology
In 1982, researcher Robert Milliman found that “the tempo of instrumental background music can significantly influence both the pace of in store traffic flow and the daily gross sales volume purchased by customers.”
According to Dr Vicky Williamson, the authority on the psychology of music, “Music positively influences consumer mood/emotional states through psycho-physiological reactions and autobiographical memory associations. Silence, by comparison, can be intrusive, as it throws unwelcome attention on the consumers’ behaviour.”
Abercrombie & Fitch
When I was younger, I hated shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch. The music was always so loud, and the customer service was usually pretty horrible. I had to scream in order to talk to any of my friends in the store, let alone trying to communicate with the sales associate, who was probably going deaf due to how loud the music was.
According to a study done by the NY Times, one Abercrombie & Fitch store hit a pulsating 88 decibels. As a reference point, standing next to a lawn mower is 90 decibels.
So, why did Abercrombie & Fitch keep their music so loud? It’s because young people can sustain loud noise longer than old people. Abercrombie & Fitch purposely wanted to maintain a youthful image, and one of the best ways of that was to keep old people out of the stores.
Although I’m not sure how effective this strategy is/was in the long run, as Abercrombie & Fitch stores are closing left and right. Maybe they should have welcomed mom and dad into their stores to help buy some clothes for their kid.
In contrast, whenever I go to the doctor’s office, more times than not, I hear classical music. Personally, I don’t really care for classical music as I find it pretty boring, but according to a study done by Nicolas Gueguen, classical music projects an air of expense and quality. So playing classical music in a doctor’s office makes a ton of sense.
Now this shouldn’t shock you, but when wine stores changed from Top 40 music to classical music, they increased sales while influencing consumers to purchase more expensive merchandise. This means less Two Buck Chuck and more Cristal.
Something that I found even crazier in that study was the influence of the genre of the music. French music at a wine store causes shoppers to buy French wines more often, while German music causes shoppers to buy German wines more often.
The Best Type of Music
So what type of music is optimal for stores to play? According to studies, more leisurely music causes shoppers to spend more time contemplating their purchases and enjoying the atmosphere. It also leads to a significant increase in sales. On the other hand, louder and fast-tempo music cause shoppers to spend less money and less time in the store.
So next time you’re in a store, listen carefully to what the store is playing. More likely than not, they’re letting you know whether or not you are in their demographic. Happy shopping 🙂