Study finds music is key to selling more in liquor stores
Curtin University social psychology professor Adrian North says music can "turn a 50/50 decision into a 51/49 decision" in stores.
One of his studies, conducted in a British liquor store, found people bought five times as much French wine when stereotypical French music was played.
"When we hear a piece of music, you would expect that knowledge to light up other connections in the brain," he explains to The Brisbane Times. "If you hear French music, you would expect a person's mental representations of all things French to become increasingly activated. In theory, at least, they'd be quicker to recognise a picture of the Eiffel Tower."
As a result, "if you hear a bit of French music, all those other things being activated mean you're more likely to be drawn to the French products in the store."
North said the speed and volume of music can also influence how much or little customers drink in bars and restaurants.
"We know that if music that's fast is played in a restaurant, people will eat more quickly," he explains. "Slow music means they'll eat more slowly, and the consequence of that is that they spend more money at the bar.
"Literally, the more that the auditory nerve gets activated, well, it goes right through the part of the brain that sets up the flight or fight response. That explains why loud or fast music makes people act more quickly: it's because you are literally more physiologically aroused."
Aussies influencing the in-store mood
In a recent quantitative survey, 86% of people believe that music makes the shopping experience more enjoyable, while 64% of millennials would rather shop in-store than online if the right mood or atmosphere is created.
Ray Medhurst, who once played in the pop band the Rockmelons and now works at a company called Mood Media, makes music playlists for stores, restaurants and lobbies.
He's told The Brisbane Times he crafts playlists to create a certain atmosphere to spark the mental response a particular store wants to activate.
He said people tell him, "oh what a great job, you listen to music all day!" But in reality, making playlists is harder than it seems.
"Yeah, I listen to a lot of music that I really don't like," Medhurst says. "You have to be completely objective, because you can't just put what you like in a playlist – it has to be right for the brand."
The MD of Mood Music, Steve Hughes, added to AdNews: "Playing the right music is an integral part [of the consumer experience]. If the visual components are the face of the store, the music is the voice. Music is far more than just entertainment for customers—it elicits emotions which affect decisions. You could think of it as a form of subliminal marketing."