retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Los Angeles Times reports on how "restaurants are mining their employees' iPods, consulting with DJs and increasingly turning to companies that create tailor-made playlists and position themselves as 'music sommeliers' or, to coin audio-branding-speak, creators of a restaurant's 'sonic identity'."

While the notion of "sonic identities" sounds like a clever marketing hook crafted by a consultant, the concept actually makes a lot of sense - that our purchasing behavior is influenced not just by what we see and smell, but also what we hear and touch. Whenever possible, marketers looking to create a differential advantage for themselves need to engage all people's senses ... and that includes paying attention to the music that people hear.

Maybe that even means having different music in the produce department than in the meat department, and in the frozen food department. Maybe different music should play in the morning than during the 4-7 primetime shopping hours. (Maybe "everything being equal" is a phrase we should banish from our vocabularies. Nothing is equal. Get used to it.)

This isn't an entirely new concept. About six months ago, I did a FaceTime commentary about a story I'd heard on NPR about how certain kinds of music go with specific kinds of wine. you can check it out here.

So here's your homework assignment. Go into your store. Go into different departments, and do more than look around. Listen. Smell. Touch.

Come to your senses.
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