Thursday, March 27, 2008

Music in Life

I was talking to my friend Tim a couple of years ago about music in our day to day life. We were talking about music in stores specifically, but the basic premise of the conversation was why do most people think that we need music EVERYWHERE we go.

If you think about it most places we go, whether to Starbucks or the grocery store or driving in our car, or the restaurant, we hear music almost everywhere we are. One notable exception to this rule, of course, is the wonderful stores of Target.

I guess there are two ways to look at this issue. First, you might love the fact that you have the opportunity to listen to music everywhere, especially if you don't have an MP3 player, you then might not mind this musical barrage. On the other hand, you may abhor the fact that people are all but forcing you to listen to music not of your choosing.

One thing that I had been thinking of the other day regarding this topic was the business/marketing implications. There are a few companies that understand how they can use ambient music to market their brand to their customers. One company that does this is Starbucks. They play certain types of music that reflect the image they want to portray, they even go one step further by offering this music to their customers to buy. Another company that utilizes music is Abercrombie & Fitch with their extremely loud and heavy bass music pumped into their stores. This music often deters "older" people who don't fit into the Abercrombie brand image from going into the stores. I think this is probably a pretty good marketing strategy. (If you visit the A&F website, click on "A&F Playlist" and you can hear the music they play in the stores)

I think the problem with most stores is they don't fully think out the musical selection and how it will affect their brand image. For example, most groceries I've been in play the same old elevator/smooth jazz/pop songs. A store like Target though takes the approach that we don't need to force feed our guests with music that they might not enjoy. Because, when you think about it, if you try to please everyone with music like the classic department or grocery store plays you are probably pleasing very few people.

Another aspect of music for customers that deserves mentioning is that of the Internet. Many websites have music or sound playing on them. Most of these websites give the user/customer a choice of whether to have the music playing, and some even give the user/customer a choice of what kind of music will play.

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