The Reason You Won't Hear Music While Shopping At Aldi

Discount supermarket chain Aldi has a storied history of implementing a strict no-fuss, no-frills approach to grocery shopping. For ample evidence, one needs to look no further than the company's unofficial motto, which is proudly displayed on its website: "The rule around here is if it isn't necessary, we don't do it. Period. End of story." In line with keeping things simple, the store is famed for its incredibly cheap prices for groceries. Then, there's the company's preference for minimal staffing — not to mention that it rarely carries popular name-brand items, opting for humble private-label and native products instead.

However, these aren't Aldi's only cost-saving measures. If you've ever forked over a quarter to unlock a shopping cart and wheel it around inside the store, then you may have already noticed that the company isn't a fan of blaring music over the loudspeakers. Although a fondness for peace and quiet may have factored into the company's decision to go music-free, the more likely reasons are that it allows Aldi to avoid having to pay any licensing fees, and it helps to boost shoppers' efficiency. 

Aldi doesn't play music because it's cheaper

Turns out, Aldi may prefer silence in its stores over playing music in the background while its customers shop for one simple reason: because it's cheaper. Many stores actually have to pay licensing fees in order to play music in a commercial business setting. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, such as if a store is smaller than 2,000 square feet. A business can also skirt the cost if it opts to play a traditional radio broadcast, copyright-free music, or original songs. However, for everyone else, a licensing fee will likely be incurred. 

Some streaming music providers, such as Pandora for Business and Dozmia for Business, do cover the fees on behalf of businesses. But, either way, Aldi saves by not having to shell out an additional monthly fee. And, as the company has proven time and time again, good cost-saving strategies are essential when it comes to staying competitive and offering its stalwart regulars nothing but the best pricing.

A music-free shopping experience is also more efficient

Aldi likely also avoids music because it may help encourage customers to be more efficient by not fostering a leisurely shopping experience. Put simply, it ensures customers don't linger inside for longer than necessary. 

In fact, music can actually influence the behaviors of customers in stores and the speed at which they shop. A 1982 study published in the Journal of Marketing found the tempo of music played in stores impacted the pace of shoppers as well as the volume of groceries they purchased. When fast-paced music was played, customers tended to walk faster, which resulted in them having less time to make impulsive buying decisions. 

On the other hand, the study found that playing slower-paced music had the opposite effect. Shoppers moved at a relaxed pace and generally bought more. In fact, spending surged by 38 percent when slow-temp music was played. Similarly, according to a 2015 publication by The Association for Psychological Science, even the type of music is important — specifically, classical music subliminally influences one's expectation of how much items will cost; if consumers hear classical, they subconsciously think things are fancier and are willing to shell out more. Granted, this tactic would probably be more beneficial to Aldi in terms of making more money. Is this further proof that the company's goal truly is to help shoppers spend less? We'd like to think yes.