How retail music influences customer experience

27 September 2023

Stepping into a store, it’s often the visuals that first catch our eye. The carefully selected products, vibrant displays, and colour palettes. But there’s another element, a bit more subtle, yet equally powerful in shaping our shopping experience. It’s the gentle hum of a tune, the rhythm that makes our feet tap, and the melodies that linger in our minds long after we’ve left. Yes, we’re talking about retail music.

Retail music is so much more than just background music, it’s a guide, subtly swaying our mood, influencing our choices, and ensuring each visit is etched in our memories. Crafting an effective retail music playlist isn’t as easy as sourcing songs to fill the silence. It’s a meticulously crafted audio strategy, aimed at communicating a brand’s story, and in many ways, acting as the very heartbeat of a store’s ambiance.

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The power of retail music in shaping atmosphere

First impressions and the role of in-store audio

When customers step into a retail store, their first impressions are often shaped by a combination of visual displays and the ambient sounds around them. While visual elements like product placement, lighting, and signage play a crucial role, the auditory experience of retail music can significantly influence a customer’s perception of the store’s environment.

According to research from the University of Bath, consumer spending in supermarkets increases by more than 10% when music is played. The study noted that the presence of music can create a more engaging and pleasant shopping experience, leading to increased spending.

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Setting the mood: How different genres influence different emotions

Music has the innate ability to evoke a range of emotions in listeners. Different genres and tempos can elicit various feelings and moods. For instance, upbeat pop or rock music might energise shoppers and encourage quicker decision-making, while slower, classical tunes can create a relaxed environment, prompting customers to spend more time browsing.

A study from the University of California, Berkeley found that music powerfully influences our emotions, even more than visual stimuli like photographs. The research highlighted that music taps into the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

A great retail music playlist helps to create an atmosphere where both shoppers and employees feel positive, relaxed, and engaged. Walking into a store with the right music can instantly elevate a persons mood, making the shopping experience more enjoyable. Whatever mood you want to instil in your customers, the right retail music playlist can make all the difference.

But it’s not just about the customers. Employees, who spend hours in the store, are equally influenced by the in-store music. The right playlist can boost employee morale, increase productivity, and reduce stress. A positive and relaxed environment, enhanced by the right music, ensures that employees are at their best, ready to assist customers and contribute to the consumer journey. Presenter-led retail radio is a great way to keep content fresh and varied so that both shoppers and employees are continually engaged and entertained by your in store advertising.

The psychological power of retail music

The psychology of sound: How our brains process in-store audio

Our brains are intricate machines, constantly processing all aspects of our environment whether consciously or subconsciously. Sound plays a pivotal role in shaping our experiences and perceptions. When we enter a retail environment, our auditory senses are immediately engaged by the in-store audio. The carefully curated playlist is designed to resonate with the consumer, lifting their emotions, engaging them and encouraging them to take specific actions while also promoting the business in a positive light.

Research has shown that our brains have a unique way of processing music. According to a study by the University of Leicester, different frequencies and beats can activate various areas of the brain. For instance, a rhythmic beat might stimulate areas associated with movement, while harmonious melodies might engage regions linked to emotions. This means that retail music influences how customers feel and interact within the store whether they realise it or not.

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How retail music influences time perception: Do we shop longer?

Have you ever found yourself lost in time while shopping, only to realise you’ve spent far longer in a store than you intended? Retail music might be the subtle culprit behind this. The tempo and genre of the music played can influence our perception of time. Studies have found that when slower music was played in a retail setting, shoppers perceived they had spent less time shopping than they actually had. This can lead to longer browsing times and potentially more purchases.

The impact on purchasing behaviour: Can music make us spend more?

The ultimate goal for any retailer is to drive sales, and retail music can be an influential tool in achieving this. The right music can not only make customers stay longer but also influence their purchasing decisions. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing, when classical music was played in a wine store, customers not only spent more time in the store but also selected more expensive products compared to consumers who listened to pop music as they browsed. This demonstrates the subtle yet powerful influence of retail music on consumer behaviour.

Retailers who understand and harness this power stand to create a more engaging and profitable shopping environment.

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Crafting the perfect retail music playlist

The subtle art of audio curation

Creating the ideal retail music playlist is an art form. It’s not just about picking chart-toppers or personal favourites; it’s about understanding the brand, the clientele, and the desired atmosphere. When crafting a playlist, audio specialists take into consideration the tempo, genre, and rhythm of tracks, as well as the emotional influence of the music and how this impacts the mood and behaviour of shoppers and retail employees. For instance, an upbeat tempo might be great for a youthful fashion store, while a more relaxed, jazzy vibe might suit a high-end boutique.

The importance of variety and pacing in retail music

Variety is the spice of life, and this couldn’t be truer for retail music. A monotonous loop of similar-sounding tracks can quickly become background noise, failing to engage the shopper. By introducing variety – different genres, tempos, and artists – you keep the auditory experience fresh and engaging.

Pacing is equally crucial. Just like a good DJ set, a retail playlist should have its peaks and troughs, guiding the customer’s energy and mood throughout their shopping journey. It’s about creating moments of excitement, interspersed with moments of calm, ensuring the shopper remains engaged and connected.

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Tips for creating the perfect retail music playlist

  1. Know your brand: Before diving into song selection, have a clear understanding of your brand’s identity. Is it youthful and energetic? Sophisticated and elegant? Your music should be an extension of this identity.
  2. Understand your audience: Consider the demographics and preferences of your clientele. A store catering to teenagers might benefit from current pop hits, while a luxury brand might lean toward timeless classics.
  3. Stay updated: While it’s essential to have staple tracks, regularly updating your playlist with new releases can keep the in-store experience fresh and current.
  4. Consider special occasions: Tailor your playlist for special events, sales, or seasons. A festive tune during the holidays or a summery track during a heatwave can enhance the shopping mood, but it’s important to break this up with other audio advertising messages so that shoppers and employees don’t feel fatigued. This often happens during the winter holidays when the radio waves are packed with Christmas classics.
  5. Test and tweak: Regularly gather feedback from both staff and customers. What tracks do they love? Which ones feel out of place? Use this feedback to refine and perfect your playlist.

Crafting the perfect retail music playlist is a subtle art, blending brand identity with the kind of music that resonates with your customer’s preferences in a way that helps influence their mood and behaviour.

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AVC’s approach to retail music

Tailored solutions for diverse retail environments

Every shop has its own special feel, and we truly appreciate that. We’re not fans of the “one-size-fits-all” idea. Instead, we take the time to get to know the brands we work with, the people who shop there, and the desired atmosphere our clients want to achieve.

Retail music says a lot about a brand. Just like visual branding, audio taps into the memory centre of our brains, amplifying brand recall, making it a highly effective marketing tool. This powerful connection between sound and memory is why in-store radio, especially when led by live presenters, becomes a game-changer.

Engaging shoppers and keeping content fresh

Live presenters bring a human touch, a real-time interaction that pre-recorded tracks can’t match. They can engage with shoppers, respond to the store’s atmosphere, and even highlight promotions or special events as they happen. This dynamic element keeps the shopping experience fresh and lively, making customers feel more connected and valued.

Including branded messaging alongside your retail music playlist reinforces the brand’s ethos, values, and offerings. It’s not just about promoting products; it’s about sharing stories, values, and building a relationship with the customer. When combined with the right retail music, these messages can guide the shopper’s journey, subtly influencing their decisions and enhancing their overall experience.

At AVC, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with some incredible brands, crafting bespoke in-store audio strategies. Our goal? To ensure that every note, every message, and every announcement aligns seamlessly with the brand’s essence, creating an atmosphere that not only delights customers but also drives sales.

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Retail music isn’t just background noise; it’s a strategic tool that shapes the customer experience. When done right, it enhances the atmosphere, boosts brand recall, and even influences purchasing decisions. It’s clear: the right tunes can make a significant difference in how customers perceive and interact with a brand.

At AVC, we’re passionate about harnessing the power of sound to elevate the retail journey. Our expertise lies in crafting tailored audio solutions that resonate with a brand’s identity and its audience. We’ve worked with numerous brands, fine-tuning their in-store audio to align with their vision and goals.

If you’re keen to explore how retail music can transform your store’s ambiance and drive results, we’re here to help. Dive into AVC’s suite of services, and let’s create a sound experience that truly amplifies your brand.

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