Should you play Christmas music in your shop?

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The holidays are fast approaching and these are exciting times for retail. It is traditionally the best month of the year in sales revenues and there is a lot to do in terms of instore experience. So what about music? Should you play Christmas music? And if so, what kind? In this article I will guide you through the dos and don’ts of Christmas background music.

If there is one kind of music that thoroughly divides opinions it is Christmas music. Many people love it. It gives them that warm celebratory feeling inside. At the same time, there is a large group of people who absolutely hate it. They cannot stand to hear those same old songs again and again. You are likely going to be dealing with both groups in your shop. So what to do?

The question you have to ask yourself is “Do I sell Christmas related items, services or experiences?” We are talking about “Christmas related” in the broadest sense. Tableware, gifts, luxury food, wines, evening wear. If so, then yes you should play Christmas music.

We find that bringing people in the Christmas mood when shopping for Christmas related items makes the shopping experience more congruent and pleasant. They are far more likely to pick up something extra because their mood is so perfectly in line with the product on offer.

You can imagine what the difference might be between someone shopping for gifts while being, for instance, stressed out from work and someone shopping for gifts while being brought in that romantic holiday season mood. Handling your Christmas music properly can make this difference.

If you sell products or services that bear no relation to Christmas at all, then you’d better skip the Christmas music altogether. Furniture stores, car dealers, opticians. All examples of enterprises that will not benefit from a christmassy mood. Still you often encounter Christmas music their shops. Is that a bad thing? Well, yes.

The problem is that people who dislike Christmas music tend to have a very strong sentiment against it. They find it really annoying. Having annoyed customers in your shop is not something you should strive for. If you sell Christmas related goods, the positive effect will outweigh the negative. If you don’t, they won’t.

So let’s say you sell Christmas related products and you want to implement Christmas music. How do you pick the right kind? Should you go for the big hits by Mariah Carey and Wham? Or for a jazzy alternative by Michael Bublé? Or perhaps classical choir carols?

This choice comes down to your overall formula and strategy. The more poppy alternatives communicate a lower market segment. Jazz and classical music push the quality and price perception upwards. So if you offer luxury evening wear, you might want to stay away from the pop songs. If you are a low or mid segment food retailer they might be just the thing you need to set the right mood.

The important thing is that you are aware of the pros and cons of Christmas music. Make conscious decisions. If you carefully do so, you can harness its full sales boosting powers.

Thomas van Straaten
Founder Sonic Effect

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