The science of background music, what effects have tempo, volume and genre on shopping behaviour

tablet programming musicThere are many dimensions to music and its ability to effect our mood, what we purchase and the amount we spend.

Some elements to consider, that can have a profound effect on your client’s behaviour, are the music styles selected, the volume that the music is played at and it’s tempo.

In our next post, we’ll explore the other aspects to consider in building the perfect background music system such as room acoustics, speaker placement, song selection and dayparting.

Ok, let’s look at tempo. Several studies have found that slower music keeps people in the store longer. This is a generalization that, without the proper context of the environment, can lead some businesses to make a mistake in the strategic implementation of their music sound scape. For instance, when slow jazz music is played in a high-end restaurant, the context of the environment works and patrons are apt to stay longer and spend more money on drinks after the meal. However, in a different context, where slow music is played in a designer shoe store, it will probably communicate the wrong the image. In the designer shoe store, it should sway the customer to feel excited, sexy and trendy, but instead, they are left with a boring image of the brand and without the sale.

Then there is the effect of volume. Studies have shown that turning up the music’s volume shortens the time spent in the store. “No” music has the shortest time spent in the store. So be careful where you set the volume, keeping in mind the effect of your store’s busy hours versus its quieter times. You never want it to be uncomfortably loud. A good test is to ensure that you and your store clerks can have a comfortable conversation while still making out the music. You never want background store noises, light and fridge buzzes and murmurs to be the lasting impression.

Finally, music genres is another important aspect in the science of background music. Top 40, Jazz, Classical, Adult-Contemporary, Lounge, Chill, Hip-Hop, Classic Rock, Alternative, ElectroPop, World Music etc. each play a specific role in projecting the right image. Top 40 can make it feel energetic, trendy, young or mainstream – Classic Rock, male, strong or rugged. Jazz comes out ahead in certain studies when it comes to having people spend more on drinks in a restaurant after a meal while Classical music sent people home earlier than other styles. Again, context is very important in selecting the right genres. (a combining genres makes for some very effective playlists)

It appears from the various studies that choosing the appropriate music and playing it at a reasonably mid volume can lead to customers spending more time in your establishment. There are plenty of other variables that factor into shopping behaviour and brand image that then translate into sales. As we pointed out, context is everything and in our next post we’ll have a look at that and several other important aspects that go into the science of background music.


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