Running a small business means you want your customers to be satisfied. Not only do you want them to be happy with your product – whether it’s novelty gifts, books, food, or coffee – you also want them to enjoy their experience in your storefront.

There are many ways you can improve your shoppers’ or diners’ experience, including interior design, color choices, smells, upsold items, sales, instore events, and especially music.

Creating an Inviting Atmosphere and Individual, Convenient Experience

Many business owners choose a combination of options to make their establishment appealing.

Here are several suggestions that can make customers want to linger in your store:

  • Welcoming and knowledgeable employees
  • Providing totes, carts, or baskets to make carrying items easier
  • Demonstrations or interactive displays of items, so customers can try before they buy
  • Unique items or experiences to “surprise and delight” customers like photobooths as part of a larger in-store promotion
  • Specific smells to bring certain memories or feelings up
  • Lighting levels and colors to adjust for mood or time of day
  • Modern amenities like USB chargers and free internet access
  • Lounge areas, perhaps even with complimentary snacks and drinks
  • Animal amenities like water and treats if your store is pet-friendly
  • “Fun zones” for kids
  • A small café or other hydration area, especially if your retail store is larger
  • In-store clubs and events, like book clubs or live music
  • Wellness classes or clubs, especially for spas, gyms, and salons
  • Easy-to-find and easy-to-understand social media handles and even hashtag promotions, so customers can keep interacting with you online

These amenities and extras should, of course, be upfront and visible. There are other approaches to managing the atmosphere of your store that do not require additional setup, hours, or specials. Along with creating a vibrant and maneuverable interior design, music is a very important component for many retail stores and restaurants.

The Psychology of Music in Your Store

Several psychological studies since the 1960s have examined how music plays an integral role in behavior, including in commercial settings like grocery stores, restaurants, clothing shops, and bookstores. Essentially, the findings conclude that humans have emotional reactions to music; pitch, texture, and tempo can all influence different behaviors, like speed of shopping or amount purchased; and personal preference or familiarity with the music can change customers’ attitudes toward the store.

The main elements that influence shoppers’ behavior are:

  • Psychological studies in the 1980s found that faster-paced music caused shoppers to move faster through grocery stores. Conversely, slower music made people move more slowly through the store, browsing through more items.
  • One of the earliest psychological studies in music and behavior reported that older shoppers preferred quieter background music while younger customers tended to prefer louder and more prominent music. However, it should be noted that this is more of a generational difference due to the timing of the study, and it may not hold true for young shoppers or diners anymore. That said, volume can be broken down by demographic influence, and it is a core component of creating a welcoming environment for your target audience or causing them to leave.
  • This can be tricky, but it is important to pick a genre of music that works with the aesthetic of your establishment. A study on music in a wine store found that customers listening to classical music purchased more expensive wines than those listening to Top 40 hits. Holiday music in stores can cue extra purchases or holiday-specific purchases. Additionally, being familiar with the music selection caused shoppers to move more quickly through the store, but they felt like they moved more slowly. Being familiar or unfamiliar with music can cause a person’s internal clock to change slightly. Choosing unfamiliar songs in a popular genre can cause your customers to linger in your store, which may influence how much they buy. Genre of music can also impact what words a customer remembers, which can in turn influence what food they order or what merchandise they buy.
  • Harmony or mode.Western music associates happiness with the major scale, and sadness or melancholy with the minor scale. A 2012 study found that songs in the major scale could be either fast or slow, and shoppers reacted the same way; however, minor scale songs were more effective on positive behaviors compared to minor scale songs with a fast tempo.

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Choosing Songs for Your Brand

Now that you have an understanding of the elements that influence shopping behavior, here are some questions to help you create the perfect playlist for your customers:

  • What music fits your brand the best?
  • Would your target audience prefer foreground or background music?
  • Would your customers prefer music with lyrics or without?
  • Do you offer special merchandise around the holidays?
  • Do you have enough speakers and the right hardware to keep the sound quality good?
  • Are you using an appropriate streaming service?

Not only does music create a vibrant, relaxing, and positive atmosphere for your customers, but using legally licensed music for businesses can improve your customers’ opinion of your ethics. The music industry tightly controls rights to songs, so artists are paid royalties consistently for their music when it is used.

If you want to legally use music in your business, working with a commercial music streaming service can help you get access to a wide range of music, which has been licensed specifically for use in retail or restaurant spaces.

Many of these streaming services work with hardware companies, so you can purchase a sound system specific to the music player, which will greatly improve the sound quality in your store.