6 Surprising Ways In-Store Music Can Influence Consumer Behavior

6 Surprising Ways In-Store Music Can Influence Consumer Behavior

Background music for shops and restaurants is sometimes taken for granted and not given the attention it deserves. When developing an in-store marketing and design strategy, we often leave it in the back of our minds and focus, instead, on visual appeal, for instance.

Many restaurant and retail owners don't realise the impact music has on sales and customer satisfaction. They often play music because everyone else does. Or, if they don't see the value in contacting professional in-store music providers, they may choose not to fill the awkward silence.

We believe that harnessing the power of music is a worthwhile pursuit that can help you boost your profits on multiple levels.

Scientific studies confirm that strategic music choice can attract more clients, deliver a better customer experience, strengthen your brand, and, ultimately, improve the bottom line. That is because in-store music influences how people feel when they come in contact with your brand — by approaching or avoiding your setting.

Why Businesses Play Good Background Music for Shops and Other Venues


How consumers experience in-store music. Canada, 2015 (Statista)

When asked about how they would react or feel when hearing music they enjoyed in a grocery store, 34 per cent of Canadian customers interviewed for a study said they would dance or sing in the aisle. We can relate to that!

Furthermore, over half of them said they would enjoy their shopping experience more if they had good background music to listen to.

Some reactions may be culturally specific, and we cannot extrapolate them. However, regardless of our backgrounds or personalities, music has always kept us good company in our daily tasks.

Let’s go below the surface of the relationship between in-store music and pleasant shopping experiences to see some concrete examples of how music can impact consumer behaviour. That way, you will have a good starting idea of how to set up a soundscape for your venue that aligns with your brand and business goals.

How In-Store Music Impacts Consumers

Regarding the different ways in-store music influences consumer behaviour, there are some key factors to consider, like genre, tempo, volume, and customer demographic.

Here are some interesting findings that can explain how different music fits in different contexts:

  1. Specific Musical Genres Lead to Different Shopping Choices
  2. All musical tastes are valid; we don’t judge here! However, according to the type of consumption activities, some genres are more appropriate than others if you want to trigger specific consumer behaviour.

    For example, according to studies, playing classical music makes people more prone to spending money. On the other hand, country music tends to nudge people into buying more practical products and spending less on “nice-to-haves”.

    The takeaway here is that, in the case of hedonic shopping, you want to create a nice mood overall, that reminds individuals to treat themselves once in a while. Country music, on the other hand, is a good choice for utilitarian shopping since it appeals to their practical side.

    Keep in mind that you should look into various other genres that can set the tone for either type of shopping. After all, musical tastes change over time, and what worked in particular studies decades ago may not work as well now. However, the potential for impact exists — with the proper sound.

  3. In-Store Music Appeals to Your Clientele’s Sense of Discovery, Increasing Brand Loyalty
  4. Good background music is one of the easiest and most accessible ways of engaging with your customers and appeal to their sense of discovery. From one track to another, you can stir emotions, memories, and challenge familiarity.

    An effective tool to try out in your shop is Storeplay Connect — our shopping companion application that gamifies the in-store experience. It allows your clients to choose their own background music for shopping sessions (Gen Zeds will love that!), discover new favourite artists, and be updated about your campaigns.

  5. Tempo and Volume Influence How Much Time Your Customers Spend at Your Venue
  6. A good way to understand how consumers react to in-store music is by looking at the effects of background music in restaurants.

    You may have noticed that large fast-food chains play loud and upbeat pop music. It could be because it encourages consumers to eat and clear their tables as quickly as possible.

    Other times, music in restaurants can be quiet and mellow to subtly invite patrons to dwell and order more items off the menu.

  7. In-Store Music Affects Men and Women Just the Same
  8. There are a few studies on music and consumer behaviour from the 90s and 2000s that show how men and women are influenced differently by music. On the one hand, they say women are more positively influenced by slow-tempo music or even silence. On the other hand, men prefer fast-tempo and louder music. While this can be true in certain contexts, it’s not due to differences in hearing sensitivity or how we process sound — as some papers suggest.

    There is much debate around this topic, but there is no scientific proof that men and women understand music differently. The reason we may like or respond better to different things may be due to the values and behaviours we're exposed to growing up, that shape our artistic sense.

    Furthermore, as our society tries to disengage from gender stereotypes nowadays, it would be useful to conduct more inclusive studies in the future, for a broader understanding of consumer behaviour.

    So, ignore stereotypes; the best background music for shopping and dining takes into account factors like personal brand, location, and consumer insight like age and values.

  9. The Best Music for Retail Queues to Reduce Perceived Wait Time
  10. Retail businesses are always looking for ways to make customers feel more comfortable while waiting in line. Luckily, music is one of the most effective tools to influence our perception of waiting time.

    Slow-tempo music, in particular, not only relaxes individuals, but it also generates a positive experience and encourages "approach behaviour" toward your brand.

    Time flies when you’re having fun, after all!

  11. Certain Music Can Make People Spend More Money — but You Need a Strategy for the Long Haul
  12. As we’ve shown some examples above, classical music is often associated with sophistication and more spending. However, no specific musical genre is a one-size-fits-all solution.

    The only way to create a powerful in-store experience is by building up your authentic brand.

    A key part of your brand’s image is finding good background music for shops like yours. Music has always been a good storyteller and it can help you get the message across to better connect with your ideal customers.

    It all starts with defining the essence of your brand and tailoring your overall image accordingly. Afterward, you will need to find ways to collect feedback and measure your impact.

Let StorePlay Set Up the Best Music for Retail Business Success

Retailers and other business owners should always be aware of the impact their music has on customer satisfaction and adjust their sound to specific demographic segments, type of business, and, especially, the brand they want to present to the world.

As we’ve highlighted with a few examples, approach and avoidant behaviour can be influenced by various environmental factors, including in-store music.

If you want to take our advice to design your own soundscape, remember to experiment and see what works for you.

Should you need any help from in-store music providers to develop a unique sound for you and track the results through AI technology, get in touch with us any time. We also invite you to explore our curated music repertoire by trying our 30-day free trial, with no strings attached!