trials. The idea, the good folks at Muzak explain, is to relax
us into an impulse
buy or two...
The press release for the Leicester University shopping and music survey starts by asking a question: "Which Wine Goes on Your Chopin Liszt?" I thought such puns were illegal but that is only the start of it. The idea - and I wouldn't like to live inside the mind that thought this up - was to see if bierkeller music inspires us to buy Liebfraumilch and if something called Parisian accordion has us reaching for a bottle of blanc. Now the only sane reaction to a blast of bierkeller is to flee but I doubt whether even Wagner administered by intravenous drip could inspire a sale of the bottle with the nun on it. And, as far as France goes, why not Piaf instead of jaunty accordion? Regrets are the kind of thing that go well with a glass or two.
None of this seems to have occurred to the Asda shoppers pushing their trolleys past the wine displays in Oadby, Leicestershire, though. When they heard bierkeller they bought German (22 bottles versus 12 French), and when the accordion was jauntying they bought French (40 bottles versus eight). Even worse, when asked why they had chosen their wine only one shopper cited the music." People are more likely to select particular products when the background music fits those products, although this may be unconscious," concludes David Hargreaves of the university's psychology department.
The lesson is clear: beware of the Blue Nun Effect. Last weekend I was queuing to buy a jacket when, suddenly, I heard the "warming" blues music that must have been in the background the whole time. Blue Nun alert! Was this jacket the sartorial equivalent? Was it only the feel-warm factor that was driving me to buy? What if the Beach Boys had been playing? Or, God forbid, bierkeller?
Best to be alert at all times really, especially when in charge of a trolley. Both Tesco and Safeway are carrying out piped-music trials and Asda has had its own 24-hour radio station transmitted by satellite from Wigan for years. The idea, the good folks at Muzak explain, is to relax us into an impulse buy or two and to this end the music tends to be "day- parted" according to who is likely to be shopping at what time (easy listening during the day, pop and classic rock after 5pm etc). No one admits to liking "elevator music", however. "If we play a Tina Turner track, it's the real thing," says an Asda FM spokesman. The most requested song - yes, evidently shoppers at Asda actually do this - is Tina's "Simply the Best". I'm not sure what kind of wine that puts on your "Chopin" list but I bet it's not the one with the nun on it.