How in store music affects consumer behaviour

Giving your store the wow factor to set it apart from the competition is more difficult than ever. This is why it is essential to look beyond traditional retail elements to influence buying decisions.

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Music is one way in which you can set the atmosphere. While the genre you choose may be dictated by your store, the tempo of the tunes you play can have a real effect.

Choosing the genre
Music can help to create a multi-sensory shopping experience, which is something online retailers cannot do. This is why choosing the right tunes to play is so important. The genre should reflect your brand and take into consideration such factors as the gender, age, cultural influences and ethnicity of your target customers.

The effect that your choices can make could be huge; for example, a 1993 research project by David Kim and Charles S Areni found that the music played in a wine shop seemed to directly influence purchases. Popular music prompted sales of cheaper bottles, whilst classical musical led to longer shopping trips and sales of more expensive wine.

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Changing or combining genres
Just as changing retail signage can alter the feel of your shop, changing the music can alter the mood. This could reflect different times of the day or knowledge of a change in demographics on various days or at particular times. A good music choice can also significantly elongate browsing times.

Volume and tempo

A 1982 study found that slower music led to shoppers browsing more and buying more, while faster-paced tunes made people move quickly through the shop; however, this may depend on the demographics of your target audience. While low-volume background music can lengthen the time older people spend shopping, louder foreground music can make younger customers spend longer in the store.

Extrasensory lures

Despite the major influence that music can have, it is not time to forget such questions as ‘what is retail signage?’ and ‘how can I add to the multi-sensory experience of my customers?’; in fact, the best effects can be achieved by combining music with other sensory lures.

When it comes to smells, a 2005 study found that while music helped to influence impulse purchasers to buy more, using just citrus scents made non-impulse buyers spend more time and money in the store.