Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Music

I absolutely hate the kind of Christmas music they play in stores.  The music, and decorations, and general atmosphere are so obnoxious that I always try to avoid setting foot in any retail establishment after Thanskgiving.
As I was walking back from the library today, I stopped inside a Dollar General, more out of anthropological curiousity than anything else.  I wanted to see wkat kind of things they would be selling.  Unfortnately, they were already playing Christmas music.  As I left, I heard the cashier talking to another customer.  The cashier was complaining about having to play the music, and wanted to play something else.  The customer agreed, and said that her six-year-old son also hated Christmas music in stores, and had specifically complained about it earlier.
I have never met anyone who likes this music.  Everyone I have ever talked to either hates it or finds it mildly distasteful.  So why do the stores keep playing it?  Some people might claim that the management is just being stupid, but any practice that survives for a long time in a competive industry must have some benefit.
Maybe the music actually is effective at getting a certain type of person to spend more money.  Maybe there are a sufficuent number of people out there who like it and enjoy the experience of shopping in stores that play it.  Maybe it works like advertising: people think they hate it, but it affects them subconsciously and gets them to spend money.  Maybe the fact that people hate it is what gives the benefits, and that their rush to get away from the insipid noise causes them to spend less time comparing prices or looking for good deals.
I wonder if any stores have actually done randomized controlled trials to see what kind of music boosts sales the most.  This library does not have the journal subscriptions the university does, so Google Scholar is mush less useful than normal, but a quick search and a look at abstracts seems to indicate that there is a little bit of academic research showing it works to boost sales.

1 comment:

1400 characters said...

So, I guess you don't like the Christmas music they play in stores? Today, I set up our Christmas tree with some of that kind of music in the background. I actually enjoy it for a few weeks a year. It brings back nice memories and makes me smile.

The Bob Dylan disc, Christmas in the Heart, could make you smile during the next few weeks. Nothing like an old Jewish man with a voice like sandpaper and glue to bring out the old holiday spirit in us. At the very least, check out his Christmas video at http://www.bobdylan.com/#/media/videos/must-be-santa !