How can you pull consumers into your store when they could buy the products they want from the comfort of their couch? That's a question thousands of retail executives are asking themselves right now, and the answers could have to do with price, convenience, or service. Delivering an exceptional audible experience could also play a role.
When consumers walk into a retail space and everything they encounter seems perfectly curated, including the music, they may never want to leave.
Music plays a big role in developing that exceptional retail experience. Here's what you should think about as you look for the right soundtrack for your shoppers.
Start With Your Audience
Talk to your marketing team, and ask about buyer personas. Larger organizations often perform this persona work in order to develop sophisticated marketing plans, and if that research has been done, you can use it.
If not, don't despair. Think about the top consumers who visit you on a regular basis. Try to determine their:
- Income level
- Education level
Use that research to determine how loud your music should be. For example, in a 1993 study published by the Association for Consumer Research, the authors report that middle-aged people preferred to shop when music was playing in the foreground, so it's harder to ignore, while those older than 50 preferred music in the background. If all of your shoppers are younger, you might need to keep the volume up a bit. If everyone is older, quiet might be key.
Next, think about the music your audience is likely to know. Familiar music helps your audience to hum along while they browse, and if the music seems happy or positive, your consumers might reflect those emotions.
For example, in a study published in the Journal of Services Marketing, researchers found that women shopping in a clothing store felt the most at ease in a store if the music they heard was both familiar and happy. It might take some research if you're not in the same age group of economic bracket as your shoppers. But once you understand what they're likely to know, and you've dug in to select the happy bits from the catalogue, you're likely to have a playlist that's tailored to your target market.
Need Help Picking the Perfect Retail Music?Start Here
Think About Your Product
Think about the playlists you've created. You probably have a set of songs dedicated to workouts, another set dedicated to romantic moments, and yet another dedicated to relaxing. You know, deep down, that music should match the activities you're engaged in.
Just as you wouldn't play heavy rap music while you're settling down to sleep, you shouldn't offer your consumers musical choices that seem either unusual or jarring. Make a choice like that, and it could have an impact on your bottom line.
For example, in a study published by the Association for Consumer Research, wine shop retailers offered consumers the choice between top 40 music and classical music as they browsed for their beverages. They found that consumers made more expensive purchases when they listened to classical music when compared to top 40 music.
This makes sense, researchers said, as wine tasting is considered both a little foreign and a lot sophisticated. People who enjoy wine may think of themselves as refined and perhaps a little superior. Playing very refined music, that often comes with a hint of the foreign, helps to reinforce the upscale experience. It allows those consumers to indulge without even thinking about it.
The name of a study published in The Sociological Review explains this concept in a different way. The name of the study, 'When You're Trying Something On, You Picture Yourself in a Place Where They Are Playing This Kind of Music," seems to imply that some shopping experiences require vision. People think about what they will do with the product they're buying, and they want the music to support that vision.
Dig deep into your product lines and think about how they make consumers feel about themselves and the world around them, and you'll have great ideas for a playlist.
Ponder Your Business Goals
While your consumers and your products will have a deep influence on the choices you make, your business goals will also help you make smart decisions.
For example, some retail outlets are designed for quick transactions. You want people to come in, find what they want, and leave again without lingering. Other retail spaces are designed for browsing. You want people to stick around.
In a study published in the Journal of Business Research, the authors found that people stayed in retail environments longer when they were exposed to unfamiliar music. Their brains were processing the new music, so it took them longer to move through the space. If you were hoping for a long trip, this would be just right.
But on the other hand, if you know your consumers will stay for a long time but you don't want them to notice, you might need entirely different music. In a study published by the Faculty of Economics and Business at Ku Leuven, researchers found that people standing in long lines were more likely to tolerate them when the music they heard was slow and calming.
Think about your goals and challenges, and find ways to make the music deliver the experiences you're hoping for.
Choosing the music you personally want to listen to is simple, but choosing the right background music for your business can be much harder. Even when you take your customers, products, and brand into account, you may still feel stumped about where to start.
Here are some playlist recommendations for genres or artists, based on the type of business you run.
Song: All Night Long (All Night) - Single Version
Artist(s): Lionel Richie
Artist(s): Declan McKenna
Song: Change the World
Artist(s): Eric Clapton
Artist(s): Sufjan Stevens
Song: Daisy Mae
Artist(s): Leon Bridges
Song: Dog Days Are Over
Artist(s): Florence + The Machine
Artist(s): Fleetwood Mac
Artist(s): Michael Bublé
Song: For Once In My Life
Artist(s): Stevie Wonder
The term pop comes from popular music. Since this genre label originated in the 1950s, it not only covers popular music in general, but specific, trendy sounds in particular.
Pop music is written for broad appeal, particularly geared toward teenagers and young adults. Since the term has existed for decades, there are now eras of pop music that different generations grew up with.
Whether you’re interested in classic rock or modern electronic-based pop music, many songs in the genre are high energy. Playing invigorating, engaging music can keep your customers happy, moving quickly, and even make them feel a little like dancing. When they leave your store, they’ll remember feeling good.
These high-energy pop songs might work well for your business:
Song: Don't Start Now
Artist(s): Dua Lipa
Song: Never Come Back
Song: What A Man Gotta Do
Artist(s): Jonas Brothers
Song: Giant (with Rag'n'Bone Man)
Artist(s): Calvin Harris, Rag'n'Bone Man
Song: No New Friends (feat. Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth)
Artist(s): Sia, Diplo, Labrinth, LSD
Song: I Don't Care (with Justin Bieber)
Artist(s): Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber
Song: If I Can't Have You
Artist(s): Shawn Mendes
Song: Hurt Me - From "Songland"
Artist(s): Meghan Trainor
Artist(s): Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello
Song: Hold The Line (feat. A R I Z O N A)
Artist(s): Avicii, A R I Z O N A
Song: see me on the outside!
Song: Knock Me Off My Feet
Artist(s): Satin Jackets, Panama
Artist(s): Flying Lotus, Little Dragon
Artist(s): Tame Impala
Artist(s): Foster The People
Song: Social Cues
Artist(s): Cage The Elephant
Song: Make You Mine
Song: Now I'm In It
Song: Humility (feat. George Benson)
Artist(s): Gorillaz, George Benson
If you run a high-end restaurant or retail store, you want your customers to feel sophisticated. ‘Classy’ music, including the following examples and playlist, is a perfect way to amplify the refinement of your establishment. You don’t want music to be so familiar that it becomes distracting.
Song: Putting on the Ritz
Artist(s): Mel Tormé
Song: Let There Be Love
Artist(s): Sammy Davis Jr.
Song: Cheek To Cheek
Artist(s): Matt Belsante
Song: They Can't Take That Away From Me
Song: You Couldn't Be Cuter
Artist(s): Seth MacFarlane
Artist(s): Nat King Cole
Song: Come Fly With Me - Remastered
Artist(s): Frank Sinatra
Artist(s): Pink Martini
Song: Ain't That A Kick In The Head
Artist(s): Dean Martin
Song: Beyond the Sea
Artist(s): Bobby Darin
Song: (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave
Artist(s): Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Song: (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher
Artist(s): Jackie Wilson
Song: Believe What You Say - Remastered
Artist(s): Ricky Nelson
Song: Blue Suede Shoes
Artist(s): Carl Perkins
Song: Bring It On Home to Me
Artist(s): Sam Cooke
Song: Brown Eyed Girl
Artist(s): Van Morrison
Song: Build Me Up Buttercup
Artist(s): The Foundations
Song: California Dreamin' - Single Version
Artist(s): The Mamas & The Papas
Song: December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!)
Artist(s): Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Song: Dream Lover
Artist(s): Bobby Darin
6. Ambient Tunes to Reduce Distractions
A newer music genre called ambient focuses more on mood, tone, and atmosphere than on lyrics or specific musical instruments. Typically electronic music, these songs are soothing or energizing, and they may feature a few repetitive lyrics or an acoustic instrument or two.
Music in the ambient genre is designed to fade into the background and keep your brain engaged while you focus on other tasks. For business owners, ambient music creates an atmosphere in your store that focuses your customers without their minds turning toward lyrics or guitar solos.
Here are some of the best ambient albums currently:
- Brian Eno, Ambient 1: Music for Airports
- Stars of the Lid, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid
- Laurie Spiegel, The Expanding Universe
- Alice Coltrane, Translinear Light
- Terre Thaemlitz, Soil
- Biosphere, Substrata
Consider the Legal Issues
Mixing music is fun, and it's tempting to hop into your own CD collection to create the perfect music to shop by. But there are serious legal implications for DIY DJ work.
Experts writing in Entrepreneur report that small business owners must have a license to play the music they've chosen, and playing music without a license can come with steep fees. A California store was forced to pay nearly $200,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees in a recent case, the experts said. It's not safe to wing it.
Getting that license can be complicated, as there are several different entities that work as go-betweens. As the National Federation of Independent Business points out, a composer may have a license with one entity while the band may have a license with another.
That's why working with a company like Cloud Cover Music is so smart.
We have negotiated relationships with all licensing firms, so you won't be at risk for legal issues when you use our products. We can also help to develop playlists that are just right for your consumers, your products, and your brand. Ready to get started? We are. Contact us.
Have Cloud Cover Music Handle It
You can pay licensing fees to PROs and create your own playlists for your business, but you may not have time to put in this kind of work. Instead, subscribing to a service like Cloud Cover Music gives you a wide catalogue from several PROs, along with specific playlists designed by curators to create a great atmosphere for your business.
Let us handle the workload for you. Sign up with Cloud Cover Music, and you can play the right music in your business — easily and legally.
- Using Store Music for Retail Zoning: A Field Experiment. (1993). Association for Consumer Research.
- An Exploration of Happy/Sad and Liked/Disliked Music Effects on Shopping Intentions in a Women's Clothing Store Service Setting. (2008). Journal of Services Marketing.
- The Influence of Background Music on Shopping Behavior: Classical Versus Top-Forty Music in a Wine Store. (1993). Association for Consumer Research.
- When You're Trying Something On, You Picture Yourself in a Place Where They Are Playing This Kind of Music: Musically Sponsored Agency in the British Clothing Retail Sector. (December 2001). The Sociological Review.
- The Effects of Music in a Retail Setting on Real and Perceived Shopping Times. (August 2000). Journal of Business Research.
- The Effect of Musical Tempo and Volume on the Waiting Time and Price Perception of Customers. (2013). Ku Leuven.
- What You Need to Know About Music Licensing for Your Business. (March 2013). Entrepreneur.
- You Might Need a License to Play Music in Your Small Business. (September 2011). National Federation of Independent Business.