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Can you ignore a bagpipe?
How about 11?

We have been creating music since we were cavemen. From lullabies to war chants, music has always served a purpose in the human experience. As human civilization has developed and changed, the way we make and share music has changed too, but its influence on humans has not.

Your heartbeat changes depending on the type of music you are listening to. Retailers can utilise this and harness the powerful effect of music has to influence consumer behaviour and shopping patterns

Pace and Tempo

Music can be extremely influential in shopping behaviour. Your choice of tempo and pace are the easiest ways to influence and control your shoppers. Research on consumer behaviour has found that slower music encourages slower and more leisurely shopping. This allows a shopper to think and contemplate their purchase before purchasing which leads to a significant rise in sales. Uptempo, fast-paced music has the opposite effect. It encourages quick shopping and fewer purchases.

Think about it. You’re in an expensive restaurant: classical music is playing. They want you to spend more time in their restaurant and are using music as a tool to relax you and help you enjoy yourself. A fast-food restaurant is very different: up-tempo music is booming out of the speakers. They want you in and out as quickly as possible which allows them to feed more people faster. 

Genre Changes Perception

The genre of the music your play also influences a shopper’s perception of your business. Classical music projects an air of expense and quality. Nicolas Geuguen’s study found that when classical music was played in a wine shop sales increased and encouraged the customers to buy more expensive bottles of wine.

Think about your target audience. If you are targeting female teenagers, the best of Pavarotti might not be well received and could cause customers to leave. Think of what is popular for your target audience and choose something that will encourage them rather than discourage them.


The volume of the music you are playing also influences your customers. Myriam Thoma found that music that is too loud was a deterrent for customers as they could not concentrate on their shopping. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to music in your business. Experiment and ask people what they think.

Music and mood

It’s 2 weeks to Christmas and you’re stuck in a queue that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, fast. Do you want to listen to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You for the 65th time, or would you rather listen to something calming, relaxing, your favourite song? While sticking on the Christmas hits might seem like the obvious choice, is it really the best?

When we are enjoying ourselves by listening to a song we like, our overall experience becomes more enjoyable and adds value to our time. In short: customers won’t mind waiting a little bit as long as you’re providing quality tunes. If every business around you is blasting out Wham! and Band Aid, maybe you should try something else and create a haven away from the Christmas noise for your customer.

Music really is a powerful tool and a hugely influential way to improve your customer’s mood and change their behaviour. Using the tempo, volume and genre can change how a customer views your business and how they will interact with you.

Maybe this year, wait until Christmas Eve before you pop on the Christmas tunes. Your change of genre could be the escape that your customers are looking for and might opt to spend a little more time with you than your competitors.

So before you decide to stick on Christmas songs, think about how this could motivate a customer to browse and buy or have them running out the door!


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