Music & the Shopping Experience: Encourage Shoppers to Browse, Buy

Great products and competitive prices are keys to keeping customers in your store, but the type of music you play and its volume are also important factors. Successful retailers have atmosphere basics like this down to a science. In fact, a great deal of research has been conducted on this subject. Here are a few tips on tailoring your soundtrack to your type of establishment.

Research Findings

According to the University of California in Santa Barbara, the specific type of background music a store or restaurant plays directly affects how much shoppers will spend. In general, music with a slower tempo encourages people to buy more, as well as eat more in restaurants. On the contrary, louder songs were found to encourage consumers to work their way through a supermarket as quickly as possible. Interestingly, when stores played music that shoppers enjoyed, they reported a shorter wait time in line.

Age is also a factor on how music impacts a customer. The Association for Consumer Research notes that shoppers ages 25 to 49 tend to stay longer and buy more when attention-grabbing foreground music is played, whereas people ages 50 and older purchase more when stores play softer, more mellow background music.

With this in mind, be mindful about the demographics of your typical customer, as well as what you are selling. Consider the following examples.

Neighborhood Coffeehouse

Most coffeehouses provide an atmosphere that encourages people to linger while socializing, working or reading a book. These activities go well with pleasant and soft background music from a service like Shutterstock. Owners who want their customers to return to their coffee shop won’t go wrong with jazz music as well as upbeat classical and some pop. While having local musicians come in to play from time to time is a nice way to encourage new visitors and attract an occasional crowd, in general, lower tempo tunes will sustain more business.

Teen Clothing Store

Retailers that cater to teen shoppers can generally get away with playing pop and rock music at slightly louder levels, but be careful about keeping the volume reasonable. Loud music, even tunes that teens love, will influence shoppers of all ages to make their purchases as quickly as possible and leave the store. This is why fast food restaurants tend to be so loud—they want their customers to order, eat and make way for the next patrons. While playing current tracks in the foreground will not prevent teens from coming in and buying what they need, it may cut down on the amount of browsing and making spontaneous purchases.

Upscale Boutiques

Higher-end stores that focus on a specific type of food or product—think wine and cheese or boutique women’s clothing—are ideal for classical music played at a lower volume. Shoppers listening to Grieg and Beethoven instead of Gaga and Bieber were found to stay longer and spend more in this type of establishment. In general, consumers respond the best to low tempo instrumental background music.

Photo Credit: Social Monsters with permission to use. 

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