How the Music You Play In-Store Can Affect Retail Shopper Behaviour

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How the Music You Play In-Store Can Affect Retail Shopper Behaviour

Many stores rely on radio stations to provide their in-store atmosphere, while others have a CD on loop. But with shopper behaviour heavily dependent on the store surroundings, is this the best way to provide a shopper soundscape?

We all respond to sound on many levels, with emotional, intellectual and subconscious responses. Is your store taking advantage of this natural reaction?

Your Store Is an Environment Where You Have Complete Control — Make Sure You Are Maximising Your Ability to Change Shopper Behaviour

You know that your shoppers’ behaviour is influenced by all of their senses. Even the colour and size of labels can determine whether your products come across as valuable or not. By tweaking the different sound elements available to you in-store, you can optimise your shop for the people who shop there, encouraging positive shopper behaviour such as adding extra items to their shop. This means you can determine how they feel while shopping, how quickly they shop and how much they spend. We all react to many aspects of sound. As well as an emotional response, we have an intellectual response, responding to tone and pitch as well as the words that are being said.

There are many elements to consider when tweaking your in-store aural atmosphere. As shoppers, we both actively and passively use sound when we shop. We actively listen to products to find out if they are fresh, for example, or made of a cheap material. At the same time, we are passively absorbing the soundscape of the store. This soundscape can often unwittingly influence our customers, with unpleasant sounds such as beeps or Tannoy announcements negatively affecting their moods.

Shopper Demographics Can Make a Big Difference to the Music You Should Use In-Store

If your store is pitched at a specific age range, you may be considering using music aimed at that age range. While that can be attractive for some stores — a store for teenagers, for example, is more likely to achieve positive results with chart hits than with classical music — it can drive shoppers outside of that specific demographic away. Stores for very young children will usually be catering to the parents of the children who won’t want to hear an endless loop of nursery rhymes.

Expensive Music Can Persuade Your Shoppers to Spend More

As well as appealing to specific demographics of shopper, some musical genres can have a particularly positive effect on shopper behaviour when used with specific products. Expensive products such as wine, suits or bridal clothing pair well with classical music. Classical music gives the store a high-class tone and can persuade shoppers to buy more expensive items, and to feel that the items they are buying are worth more.

Faster Music Makes Shoppers Shop More Quickly

Speed is another element that can dramatically change shopper behaviour in store. Shoppers will often move at a speed that can be changed by the music or sounds around them. Have you ever noticed that your speed slows down when you shop in supermarkets? They often play slow music to persuade their shoppers to walk and shop more slowly.

Fast music makes your shoppers move faster, which can have its advantages if you want shoppers to move through your store quickly. It can also have the side effect of making them more impatient, causing them to consider leaving if confronted by long queues.

Slower music allows your shoppers to relax and browse more slowly, allowing them to be tempted by impulse buys and add-on products.

By paying attention not only to what your customers are buying, but what they see and hear during their shop, you can identify issues and optimise your sales conditions, ensuring increased customer satisfaction and more sales.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.