It’s not exactly #BREAKING news that retailers use music to make you buy more shit. Often even a clothing store changing the way in which they play their music is itself deserving of column inches, such as Abercombie & Fitch’s recent attempt to shake off their reputation as a underage nightclub hellhole, complete with fat-shaming, bad smells, and, of course, thumping music. But how much do you really pay attention to the relationship between what’s on the stereo and what’s in the oversized mesh basket that magically apparated into your hand upon entry?
In 2007 Marie Claire grilled a store manager on the link between music strategy and target demographics, but unless you’re Avril Lavigne, a lot changes over seven years in the music biz. Realizing that Lorde was only 10 and Lindsay Lohan was just starting out as a leggings designer, PolicyMic have revisited the phenomenon to shed some light on what recent developments mean for your wardrobe’s inventory of Birkenstocks and culottes.
Most initiatives do remain stagnant, proving that we haven’t become quite the discerning customers we’d like to believe we are. Loud music still equals less time shopping, though stores like Hot Topic can use this to their advantage since its wards off anyone born before 1995, letting kids shop unaware of the social implications of neon studded chokers. According to Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman, loud music also leads to “a momentary loss of self-control, thus enhancing the likelihood of impulse purchase.” Savvy music marketers call this “disrupt-then-reframe.”
One store you will see constant music changes take place at is Madewell. A former employee claims upbeat indie tunes were used to create a bond between sales and clerks, with cooler music translating to an impression of hipness and a handing over of cash. “Shoppers asked us what we were playing because they felt hip listening to it,” the employee said. Thankfully we now have Shazam to keep your ego in tact, but that won’t protect your bank balance.
But if you’re feeling dark about being sonically conned into a pair of too-tight jeans, spare a thought for those sales associates. As someone who once worked at Banana Republic full-time from November through January, I count it among the holiest of miracle that I can still enjoy Mariah Carey’s seminal “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”