Music and behaviour

 Maybe you are reading this relaxing after the frenzy of Christmas, a new cd playing in the background feeling nice and mellow

There is no doubt music affects our emotions, but it also influences us in other more subtle ways.

Over the last month it’s obvious why shops and supermarkets have been pumping out Christmas carols, they were  putting us in a jolly festive mood making us more willing to splurge out on gifts and festive fare.

But what about the music we hear in commercial premises the rest of the year?  Does the fact that there are different tunes playing in your local grocer than the ones in your local barber shop, say more than meets the ear?

Well, apparently there is a direct correlation between what people are listening to and how they behave.  Of course companies have known this for some time and many employ behavioural sociologists to advise them on the type of music to play in order to bring out certain behaviours in their target audience.

For instance it is known that volume, speed and type of music can have a tremendous effect on the products people choose, how much alcohol they consume and how much money they spend.

In fact, there have been numerous  studies conducted to identify the ways in which music affects the consumer and what has come to light is that loudness, tempo and genre also effects how long consumers spend in shops and restaurants, as well as how they relate to others during exposure to a specific musical experience.

Music played loudly  is generally seen as a negative by consumers and they tend to spend less time shopping .However,  in grocery stores playing loud music  it was found that just as many purchases  were made despite shopping for a shorter period of time. Sales per minute are much higher when music is played loudly as opposed to soft music.

So shop owners, take note, if you want people to get out of your shop quicker but still buy, play loud music!

Slow Music
Experiments conducted in the 1980’s  in both restaurants and supermarkets,  showed that slower music creates slower traffic flow, which means that people will shop for longer in  a particular supermarket, as well as eat and drink longer in their restaurant of choice.

When slower music was played, supermarkets saw overall significantly higher sales volumes, with one supermarket study reporting an increase in sales of 38% with slow music in the background.

This data is not considered to be surprising, as persons who are moving more slowly are more inclined to see things they want.

Restaurants playing slower music also had longer waits for tables and much higher customer bar bills.

Researchers say what was interesting in the study was that though restaurant goers did not necessarily eat more; they drank more alcohol with a slower pace music in the background.

In department stores that play top40 music, shoppers over 25 are said to believe they have spent too much time shopping in the store and in stores that play instrumental music, persons under 25 tend to feel like they have over extended themselves in terms of time. Thus, unfamiliar or less preferred music slows down the perceived time for the shopper.

Unsurprisingly, people are more likely to desire a product that has been advertised in conjunction with music they enjoy than one that has been paired with unappealing music or none at all.

Consumers are also more likely to buy products when the music used to advertise them is aligned with the product.

These effects work for individual products and entire brands.

The most effective music used in advertising is that specifically composed to match or compliment the product.

People also tend to remember advertising messages  better when it is  enhanced by using popular songs, particularly when the lyrics are removed as it encourages people to  sing along, supplying the missing lyrics .

Many store owners and restaurateurs in the Cayman Islands subscribe to the idea that music plays a role in attracting customers.

Arabus Owner Ed Solomon said he finds that his customers are more amenable to jazz.

“We try to play easy listening jazz for our clients because of the soothing aura it creates. Aggressive musical styles tend to put our customers on edge,” remarked Mr. Solomon.

He added that he fooled around with many types of music and has found that classics from the likes of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder are the best kinds of fit for his clientele.

Mr. Solomon said during the Christmas season he  switched to carols but those tunes would still have a jazz flavour, with the help of great mainstream artists like Kenny G.

At Kirk Freeport in the Bayshore Mall, Marketing Manager Lance Kidder said his store generally played easy listening songs but during Christmas the store shifted to Christmas carols in late November.

He said for the other 23 stores that are under the Kirk banner, the music was generally geared toward the demographic that would most frequent the store, with stores like Fossil, feature fusion, techno rock and more progressive styles of music, including top40 content.

At stores like Mac, a perfumery and makeup boutique in the Bayshore Shopping Mall that caters to women, Employee Krystal William said the content that streams into her store generally comes from radio.

“We listen to the mixture that is played on stations like 107.1 FM,’ said Krystal, who explained that if carols were played at the store during Christmas, they would most likely have an edge that would appeal to their customers.

As evidenced by the comments of those on the frontline of marketing and the sentiments of general people, the power of music to influence action is highly regarded, though sometimes underrated. So the next time you’re whimsically enjoying a piece of music, ask yourself, “How am I being influenced?”