Shop ’till the Beat Drops

Shop ’till the Beat Drops

Great music is one of the elements which can send a good bar right to the top of a list of favourites and there are few things more exciting than seeing hundreds of people dancing in unison to the immense sound blasting from one of our sound installations.


In the retail environment, the Blacka effect is often more subtle and far more difficult to spot for the onlooker.  For business owners however, the result is nothing short of revolutionary.


Studies show that in-store music has a dramatic effect on the behaviour of shoppers, with volume tempo and type of music played all influencing shoppers’ behaviour – and how much they spend.


A study into wine retail conducted in the 1990s showed that music genre has a profound effect on purchasing habits.


Switching from pop music to classical prompted customers to splash out on more expensive wine and it seems that classical music is particularly effective in getting people into the right state of mind for spending money on high-end luxury goods.


Genre also plays a part in how long people spend in store. What’s surprising is exactly how this happens. Instead of gently encouraging customers to spend more time browsing, it actually distorts time perception. The wrong music selection makes people feel they’ve spent longer in store, whilst choosing music that really appeals to the customer base has the opposite effect.


Experiments have also shown that slower background music results in slower traffic flow, particularly in restaurants and supermarkets, and wherever customers perceive music to be too loud, they simply leave.


Choice of music should be viewed in the same way as interior design – as an extension of the brand itself. The classical music used to such good effect selling wine will hardly help shift clothes at a cutting-edge fashion boutique, where progressive house or obscure vintage rarities will likely do more to strengthen consumer/brand identification.


In his influential paper on the subject, The Power of In-Store Music and its Influence on International Retail Brands and Shopper Behaviour, Michael Morrison of Monsah University states:  “Music can be a critical component of store atmosphere and plays a role in purchase decision making process…


“By understanding the demographics and psychographics of its target market, retailers can create an audio environment where their customers feel comfortable, relaxed and happy to spend time and money.


“The use of carefully selected music creates an immediate distinction for a retail brand by establishing the right mood. Music can motivate the subconscious and create a first and lasting impression.”


Putting aside terms like demographics and psychographics for a moment, perhaps the most fundamental lesson for retailers here is that there’s more to music than just turning on the radio, or letting Saturday staff plug in an iPod – no matter how refined their musical taste happens to be.