Music and Audio Advertising for Grocery Stores / Markets

Grocery Store Marketing

Markets, grocery stores and supermarkets have been using background music as part of their presentation for the past 50-plus years. The genre varied greatly and was often picked simply because the store manager or staff liked it. Whether it was a boutique market in an upscale community or a huge chain of supermarkets located across the region, music was incorporated as part of the shopping experience with little forethought.

Grocery Store Music History

POP Audio Marketing Reaches Shoppers While They're In the Mood to BuyFor decades grocery stores simply played local radios stations or recorded tracks in their establishment. This worked fine until the mid 1970s when copyright laws started being enforced, making it illegal for many businesses to use an artist’s music without a license. Not all retailers need a license to play music; however, if your store is larger than 2,000 square feet — or your bar or restaurant is more than 3,750 square feet — you probably need a music license. Other considerations are the number and placement of speakers, etc.

With these new laws being enforced came many music providers who handled the store’s music selection and licensing. Decades ago this music was delivered via tapes, cassettes and CDs. Of course, most of these services now stream the music over the internet.

Getting More Out of Your Store’s Audio System

It wasn’t until the early 1980s that many retailers — with the help of researchers and advertising agencies — realized they had a captive audience who would be spending considerable time in their stores. And they came to the store with the intention of buying products.

Now, point-of-purchase display advertising in the form of display signs, coupons and inserts have been in use for decades; but the concept of overlaying audio messages and broadcasting them over the store’s audio system is relatively new. Right now most of these services play music and an audio ad broadcast every 10 or 15 minutes.

The Problem

The problem with most in-store audio services is they play ads for national brands. Whether you’re a boutique market in California or a huge supermarket in Chicago, the ads are the same. For example, you might hear some music while shopping and then hear an advertisement for baby foods — even if the grocery store you’re shopping at doesn’t carry baby food. In short, it’s a message that doesn’t help your customer or your store.

While those types of services do solve the music and licensing problems, they don’t take advantage of your grocery store’s audio system.

Using Your Store’s Existing Audio System to Drive Shoppers to Higher Profit Centers

Most grocery stores work on very small margins, oftentimes as low as two percent. If a boutique market or supermarket can use its existing audio system to influence shoppers walking  the aisles, wouldn’t it make sense to use it? For most stores, the answer is “yes.” Following are just a few ways markets, grocery stores are using point-of-purchase audio marketing to increase revenues.

  • Play audio messages in the morning to encourage shoppers to buy coffee, ready-to-serve breakfast items and baked goods
  • Play audio messages in the late morning / early afternoon to let customers know they have fresh deli sandwiches and other prepared foods ready to go
  • Play audio message in the late afternoon telling customers they have prepared, ready-to-serve dinners so they don’t have to cook tonight
  • Play audio messages informing customers about new products; “Check out our organic food department” or “We now carry gluten-free products in aisle 7.”

Other in-store audio marketing can be used for branding purposes, such as reminding customers that their grocery store:

  • Has the lowest prices
  • Has the cleanest market in town
  • Has the highest quality produce
  • Has the best selection of produce, meats and frozen/prepared meals
  • Has the fastest checkout
  • Has the most courteous, friendly employees
  • Has the freshest food or feli
  • Has the widest selection of ethnic foods

If your market or grocery store has an existing audio system and an internet connection, it may make sense to use your audio system to not only entertain your customers, but educate and inform them as well. According to an Arbitron study, two-thirds of shoppers find retail audio advertisements helpful — and over 40 percent made an unplanned purchase because of it.


POP Audio advertising reaches shoppers when they are in the buying mood, guides customers to specific items or departments, encourages impulse buys, showcases new products and reminds shoppers what they like about your business.