Funk Radio E94 – Makes People Want to Buy Things [Podcast]

Today we briefly theorize why funk/soul music seems to always be playing in grocery stores and the like. Does funk make people buy things?


Imagine this – you’re at your favorite local grocery store trying to reach the jar of mayonaise on the top shelf, when suddenly your ears are enchanted by the smooth sounds of Heatwave taking you on the Grooveline, or the thrilling voice of baby Michael Jackson belting out I Want You Back. At this point you realize two things: 1) it’s probably good for your health that the mayonaise is out of reach, and 2) funk & soul music sure do seem to be pretty popular on these store radios.

We noticed this as well (at least the second point). These genres of music are generally “unpopular” just about everywhere else, so why are they so prevelant here? We’ve got a few theories:

The funk makes people happy. As Kyle mentions in this episode, “it brings subconscious joy to people so that they’re happy during their shopping experience.” The ubiquity of this type of music, coupled with the fact that it’s easily identifiable and non-offensive, makes it a perfect breeding ground for consumers to… consume things.

Old people like funk. It’s more or less obvious that music that’s 40+ years old is going to bode well with people who are also 40+ years old. Generally speaking, stores that sell “boring stuff” like groceries, clothing or houseware, mostly exist for adults with money and responsibilities. These people remember this music from their younger years which (most of the time) brings about fond memories. And you can bet that making people feel young is going to keep them in your store giving you all their money.

Funk is cheap, in a good way. A long time ago we discussed on the show the prevelance of funk & soul music in TV commercials, too. A big reason for this, aside from age-appropriate marketing, is that this music is simply easier and cheaper to license for a commercial, versus something that’s really popular right now. We suspect there’s something similar going on in our stores – maybe it’s cheaper for them to broadcast the older stuff. This may not play a huge part in the decision, but it’s a possible factor.

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