Why Aldi Doesn’t Play Music In Its Stores

Aldi has opted to not play music in its stores because it costs money to license the songs.

By Kari Apted | Published

If you are new to the Aldi bargain shopping experience, you will immediately notice several differences between this German-based food market and other grocery stores. For instance, you must insert a quarter to release a shopping cart to hold the store-brand items you see displayed in cardboard boxes instead of on shelves. But one thing that might not be immediately apparent is the lack of music playing in the background.

Aldi has opted not to play music in any of its over 1600 stores for one simple reason: it costs money. Stores that broadcast music over their speakers must pay for the songs they play. Because Aldi prides itself on its low prices, the company looks to cut corners wherever it can.

The lack of music goes along with other no-frills details, such as having to pay for shopping bags and bagging your own groceries. Because Aldi offers considerably lower prices on everything from cereal to meat, fans of the store don’t mind these minor inconveniences. Jenna Coleman, a grocery industry consumer behavior analyst, supports the store’s no-music policy.

“As someone who shops at Aldi every week, I am very familiar with the many things Aldi does to cut costs,” said Coleman. “Not playing music in their stores is just another line item they aren’t passing onto their customers.”  Stores that do choose to entertain customers with background music usually pay a third-party licensed music service to access the tunes.

Why do most large grocery stores (though not Aldi) pay to entertain their customers with songs as they shop? According to an article on Allrecipes.com, music helps set the atmosphere for a positive shopping experience. Music can make a difference in how long customers stay inside the store and how much money they spend.

This theory of music driving shopping habits traces back to a 1982 study performed by Ronald E. Milliman, a marketing professor. He found that the tempo of the music played in stores helps set the speed at which customers walk through the store. Slow music creates a more relaxed atmosphere that can cause shoppers to linger longer than they might have otherwise.

While that may work well for large grocery chains like Kroger, lingering in the store isn’t really part of what Aldi customers are looking for. Everything about the way Aldi structures its stores is geared toward creating an efficient, thrifty shopping experience. In fact, their approach is one of moving customers in and out of the store as quickly as possible instead of inviting them to hang out for a while.

Pre-packaged produce means that Aldi customers don’t have to waste time weighing fruits and vegetables. Every location has a predictable layout so that stopping at any Aldi feels familiar. And every store has an unlisted phone number, to prevent employees from wasting time taking calls and questions by phone.

Aldi’s different approach to grocery shopping has been successful, with the chain bringing in an average annual revenue of $80 billion. Aldi fans created a Facebook group called the ALDI Aisle of Shame Community, named for the store’s aisle of frequently changing seasonal and home goods. The group now has over 1.5 million members who post their latest bargain finds—everything from potted mums to cocktail dresses to gourmet cheese.