You want customers in your storefront to have the best possible shopping experience. You know that one of the simplest ways to influence their mood, pace, energy, and emotions is through music, but which kind?
Should you play soothing music to help them relax or fast pop music to help them move quickly? How can you utilize in-store music to attract new customers? What will encourage them to buy your products?
The answers are complex and have a lot to do with the following:
- Your brand's personality
- How you want your customers to feel in your store
- Their personal tastes in music.
How to Figure Out Which Genre to Play (& How Loud to Play It)
By researching how your customer base views your product, your brand personality, and your customers' music genre preferences, you can create the perfect playlist for them. There are a few areas to consider.
There are five elements to brand personality:
Understand how these characteristics are related to your products. Do you sell sophisticated products that build excitement? Or do you sell sincere products with a lot of heart?
Think hard about what your brand's personality might sound like. This helps you design your marketing, retail storefront, and online presence.
More than 70 percent of people say they are more likely to shop in locations that play music they enjoy. But what they love can vary. Women often prefer oldies, pop, and R&B in their shops, while men frequently prefer rock, blues, and bluegrass.
Think hard about your customer base. What do they look like? How old are they? What seems to get customers toe-tapping while they're with you?
No one likes sounds that are too loud, and shoppers are no exception. Even if they like the song being played, customers will not enjoy the experience if the music is loud enough to be distracting.
Finding the sweet spot between too quiet and too loud might take some time, but deciding on background versus foreground songs is a good place to start.
Pick the Tempo
Your music choices influence customers’ mood and physical pace. Slow music makes them walk slowly, but it might make them sleepy too, depending on the time of day. Fast music makes customers move or chew faster, but feeling rushed can make some people feel stressed.
You may choose to match music choices to the time of day. For example, when people get off work, they may prefer relaxing music, but if they shop in the morning, they may want something peppier and happier to keep them awake.
Specific Genres Have Specific Behavioral Influences
Some musical genres impact psychology and purchasing behavior regardless of demographic.
Research over the past few decades has revealed some interesting findings.
- Classical: One study of wine purchases found that when classical music was played in the background, shoppers purchased more expensive wines, although they did not purchase more. This effect occurred regardless of how much the person knew about wine.
- Regional music: A wine store in the United Kingdom played French music and found that shoppers purchased more French wines. When they played German music, shoppers bought more German wines. Shoppers did not report noticing this trend.
- Ambient or instrumental: One Spanish researcher tried replacing music with computer-generated background abstract sounds, which were not musical. The result was an increase in the number of people in the store, leading to an increase in money spent there because the shoppers were intrigued by the new and unique sonic experience.
Picking a genre like dubstep or electronica may bring in more than just teens or young adults because the music is unique in texture and tone.
- Pop music or familiar music: Shoppers experienced a little more psychological stress when they heard songs they were familiar with. They tended to focus on the music, not their shopping, and they thought they had spent more time in the store than they actually had.
Finding unique and unfamiliar music, even if it is in the same genre as your demographic's preferences, can reduce stress, allow the piece to blend into the atmosphere, and promote relaxation.
- Holiday music: As holiday seasons like Christmas approach, playing music closer to the mood or personality of the holiday may bring in more shoppers. Christmas music has been found to encourage people around that time of year to spend more and shop longer. However, outside the Christmas season, this music would be quite dissonant unless your retail store specialized in year-round Christmas items.
Focus on Your Customers’ Needs and Loves
Humans have innate emotional reactions to music, so as a retailer, it is important for you to understand these reactions so you can tailor the background music for retail stores to the people you want in your store. You can even attract new customers from a different demographic than your base by tailoring the soundtrack to their interests a little more.
You can create a strong emotional bond between your brand personality, brand quality, and customers, creating loyal fans who will buy and talk about your product for years.
3 Tips to Choose the Right Music for Your Store
1. Ask for Staff Input
Your staff will listen to your songs all day long, and your playlist can influence their mood. Holiday music can be particularly polarizing, as some workers complain that they hear the same set of songs over and over.
Explain that you're creating a store playlist, and you'd like to hear from them. What songs do they think your customers will like? What genres will work best?
2. Poll Your Loyal Customers
Wondering what your customers want to hear? Ask them! Tag your most loyal customers with a survey and ask them what they'd like to hear when they're shopping with you.
Remember to reward them for their time. (Too few companies do that.) A discount on their next trip could be well worth the data you gather.
3. Track Your Results
You've created a playlist. Try it! Turn on the speakers and track your daily results for a week. How do they compare to a typical week?
If you've sold less, tweak your playlist and repeat. In time, you'll find a set that's right for your brand.
Music & Buying Patterns FAQs
What music encourages people to buy?
It varies. The best music that encourages people to buy will match your brand's personality, appeal to your core customer's music preferences, come in at the right volume, and offer a tempo appropriate for the time of day shoppers are in your location.
What music increases sales?
Again, it depends. If one playlist were proven to work across multiple industries and locations, everyone would play it. The right playlist comes from deep thought about your brand, your shoppers, and the experience you want to deliver. There are no real shortcuts in creating ambiance.
How does music influence shopping?
Fast-paced music tends to make shoppers move a little quicker. Slow-paced music encourages browsing and lingering. Watch your customers (and your sales) respond to the music you play, and you'll find the right mix.
Music Enhances Shopping Experience. (May 2022). SmartBrief.
The Subliminal Influence of Ambient Music on Shoppers. Psychologist World.
How Stores Choose Which Songs to Play. (December 2019). CNN.
Are Customer Service Surveys Effective? (December 2019). Forbes.