According to urbandictionary.com and every Zoomer, “Mid” means “average or poor quality.” Mid is the Gen Z version of “Blah” or “Meh,” like its predecessors; it’s not something you want to be associated with.
Unfortunately, achieving Mid status isn’t hard to do. If you break it down, “Mid” is derived from “Middle,” and in the world of retail, being in the middle means you have a broader reach. The middle is the place where we assume everyone will find something they like. As we move further toward the edges and become “edgy,” we believe we risk alienating the average customer.
For some brands, aligning with the middle is the right thing to do, and it’s precisely what their customer expects. Fast food chains and big box stores that cater to every segment of the population stay in the middle regarding their product selection and in-store experience. So, in the case of a nationwide burger franchise, the local goths are not going to take it personally if they have to listen to Dua Lipa while chowing down on their fries.
A Mid experience becomes an issue when your customer expects an above-average experience from your brand. The “above-average” customer is astute at identifying your brand values in every detail in your store. Your brand values are embedded in your choice of furniture, mannequins, paint colors, fixtures, price tags everywhere. They’re keeping score, and you might lose them if you let them down.
Music is one of the first aspects of your in-store experience your customer will encounter. Use excitement and curiosity to draw them in and avoid sparking that “been there, done that” feeling.
Being Mid is boring, and we hate nothing more than being bored. According to a study by experimental social psychologist Wijnand Van Tilburg, people deemed boring are generally considered incompetent, cold, and socially avoided.
“We found there’s not only a negative reaction to people [considered stereotypically boring], but there are also doubts around how good their abilities are…”
It’s easy to see how these same feelings could occur if your customers thought your brand was boring.
There’s good news, though, and that comes from what happens when you’re not perceived as Mid. Tilburg says, “We found that boredom ultimately stirs a psychological purpose and pushes people to search for new things they would find meaningful or valuable…” The fact is, we’re bored more often than we’re not, and we’re constantly looking for a cure for that boredom. When you create an environment your customers find meaningful or valuable, they will come.
In his book “Alive At Work,” social psychologist Daniel M. Cable dives into why people become disengaged with work. Cable suggests that one of the main reasons employees become disengaged (or bored) with work is that they need to be encouraged to learn, explore, and experiment by their employers. He refers to this as a part of the brain called the seeking system.
“Our seeking systems create the natural impulse to explore our worlds, learn about our environments, and extract meaning from our circumstances.”
The seeking system also applies to customer engagement. We love to find meaning in the things we do. When the environment is the right fit, we want to explore every inch of it and learn its language.
There are many ways to avoid being Mid when it comes to in-store music, but knowing how easy it is to be Mid might be helpful. The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that a single genre will do the trick. If your customers are primarily Gen Z and Millennial, chances are you’re leaning heavily on Indie-Pop and Top 40. You’re not alone, and that’s why it’s Mid. The Indie-Pop and Top 40 combo has become the go-to for many brands, and it’s lost its luster. It’s become boring.
We’ve entered the age of genreless listening, and your customers are looking to be pleasantly surprised by something that is uniquely you. It’s time to dig a little deeper into the soul of your brand and take a closer look at your customer. Use the vast language of music to express your brand values. Find those musical curve balls that will become your signature. Keep them on their toes. Keep them shazaming, and most of all, save them from boredom.
Is your in-store music experience Mid? We can help.
Creating on-brand, exciting, and evergreen in-store music programs is what we do. Every brand has a unique and compelling story that we can set to its own incredible musical journey. You’ve done the work to build a culture and following around your brand; now let us cherry-pick the perfect songs to bring you and your customer together in the most exciting and inspiring ways.
Learn more about our services for retail shops here.