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Retail: Marketing

Why science says you should play music in your shop

By Business Hacks on January 13, 20174 minutes read

Not only can music spark the buying behavior, it can also reduce the perceived waiting time. Use music to give your shop a voice and increase add-on sales – our friends at Soundtrack Your Brand shares their best hacks with us!

play music in stores
What kind of mood do you want the customers to be in when they enter your store? With the right music, you can create that feeling the moment they enter the store.

The best store music is actually music you don’t really remember.

Music in retail is a field that’s been studied since the 1980s, beginning with the pioneering work of Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, a professor at the Western Kentucky University, who made groundbreaking research into how background music influences shopping behavior. However, ignorance about the impact of music in retail still remains rampant – even among the biggest chains – and despite the fact that for customers, music has proved to be just as influential when making a purchasing decision as the store’s visual elements and branding.

Your affinity for Skrillex isn’t necessarily the best choice for your French bakery.

If the visual components are the face of the store, the music is your voice. Music is far more than entertainment for your customers - it’s the timbre and soul of your brand that lets your customers know who you are.

Jasmine Moradi’s Tips For Music in Retail:

        • Take control of the speakers. Know what music you’re playing and why.

        • Don’t make random music choices. Don’t shuffle the lists. Plan your music.

        • The point of music is to meet the customers’ expectations. The music is your brand’s voice. “Your customers enter the store with expectations formed by ads and social media. You’ve got to create the same emotions using music.

        • Don’t stand still. It’s not enough to have one soundtrack. Unlike a logo that can be around for years, you’ve got to keep refreshing your playlists so that the music keeps matching your brand’s emotional values. 

We all know that music can impact the brain in many different ways. Unlike visual elements, however, like fonts and colors, music is a lot harder to judge. Is the music right? Is this how my brand sounds? These questions aren’t immediately straightforward to answer.

Music is more subjective than the visual elements and people have stronger opinions about it. You probably think your music taste is classy, but your affinity for Skrillex isn’t necessarily the best choice for your French bakery.
The best way to approach business is to integrate it from the beginning, to consider it as carefully as the visual identity. You have to consider a visual identity and a sonic identity at the same time.

play music in shops
Plan your music and match it the emotional values of your shop.

Ads, visuals, promotions, and music all have to work together.

“The best store music is actually music you don’t really remember. The best music creates an atmosphere that enchants you, but it remains below the level of consciousness,” says Jasmine Moradi, Soundtrack Your Brand’s resident in-store music researcher.

She adds: “The worst music is often the music you notice because that’s music that doesn’t fit the brand and the store atmosphere.”

Don't forget the brand building effects of playing consistent music. Music can be far more than entertainment.

Moradi notes big clothing brands spend a lot of money on their fashion shows but that they should take the music they play a step further and play it to customers in their stores. That way customers could experience the music even though they didn’t attend the fashion show. That would give clothing retailers an additional channel to engage with customers.


This article was written by Jens Hansegård and published by our friends at Soundtrack Your Brand. Check out their eminent blog at soundtrackyourbrand.com/blog/. To learn more, don't miss the full study "The influence of music on consumer behavior" that was conducted by Stockholm School of Economics, Soundtrack Your Brand and clothing retailer GANT. 

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