We Finally Know Why Aldi Doesn't Play Music In Its Stores

Even though Aldi is a Germany-based supermarket chain, it's become a major grocery brand in the U.S., where it operates around 1,600 stores across 35 states. The company has won over Americans despite its no-frills approach to the shopping experience. Aldi stores don't offer free carts or bags, and shoppers have to bag their own groceries. But the chain's focus on efficiency rather than luxury or convenience means it can keep prices low — a strategy that has gained it a loyal customer base.

You might have noticed you don't hear background music playing during your grocery runs to Aldi. This is very different from most retail stores, which provide pleasant tunes to create a positive experience that might encourage customers to shop for a longer period of time. Playing music is a common retail psychology tactic to subtly manipulate shoppers' behaviors (via Mental Floss). But Aldi doesn't use this approach because keeping prices low is its main way of attracting customers and generating business, Jenna Coleman, a consumer behavior analyst in the grocery sector, told Reader's Digest.

How Aldi cuts costs by not playing music

How does not playing music lead to lower prices? It allows Aldi to cut costs. John Stranger, the VP group supervisor of creative agency EvansHardy+Young, told Reader's Digest that because Aldi doesn't provide tunes, it avoids paying licensing fees. When retail stores play music, they usually have to pay a third-party licensed music service. In Aldi's case, the savings are what brings in customers, so not hearing melodies over the speaker while browsing through the grocery aisles is not a deal-breaker for them.

No background music also adds to Aldi's efficiency. Each store is set up to get its customers in and out as quickly as possible. That's why the supermarket chain implements a self-return policy for carts, has the same layout for all locations, uses no-nonsense shelf displays, and offers pre-packaged produce that doesn't need to be weighed. Music would derail the company's plans since it encourages relaxed wandering and browsing.

Aldi's strategy of saving money and keeping prices low by cutting everything, even music, beyond the bare essentials of the shopping experience proves to be working. The brand reaches $80 billion in revenue annually and is aiming to be the third-largest grocery chain in the U.S. by 2022, behind only Walmart and Kroger. Aldi customers apparently don't mind not hearing music while they shop as long as they can continue paying low prices.