I often get the question whether sound and music can really boost sales in retail. The answer is quite simply a determined ‘yes’. I thought I’d devote an article to the subject to explain how sound and music affect people to buy more.
First of all it is important to realize that music can boost sales, but that does not mean that it will. Many retailers seem to think that playing any sort of music will make their shops perform better. It does not. In fact, choosing the wrong music, bad sound or the wrong volume can lower your sales quite dramatically.
So how does that work? How come we are so deeply affected by music that we display different buying behavior, simply because different music is playing? Let’s look at the science behind this magical power of sound.
Music has a strong influence on how we feel. This is because it affects us on countless different levels. When music reaches our ears it triggers a chain of reactions in our body and mind. It physically alters biorhythms such as our heart and breath rates, and it triggers strong associative processes in the brain. Furthermore it causes the release of hormones and so it measurably alters our physiological and psychological state.
As any retailer will know, our physical and psychological state has a huge effect on how we behave when shopping. When you feel stressed, you are far less likely to take the time to really listen to a salesman’s arguments than when you feel relaxed. When you are happy you are likely to buy different food than when you are sad. We hardly make any rational choices when shopping. It all comes down to what is happening subconsciously.
Studies have shown, for instance, that the loudness of music affects how we perceive time. When playing louder music, time seems to pass at a higher pace. This, in turn, causes us to compensate by moving faster. So without anyone being aware of it, you can affect how much time people spend in your shop by simply altering the volume of your instore music.
Having people spend more time in your shop could boost sales since it allows for more impulse purchases to be made. On the other hand, having people leave quicker might allow you to service more clients in the same amount of time. It all depends on your formula and strategy which would benefit you most.
This is a typical example of a choice you face when determining what kind of music would best suit your shop. Altering time perception alone is shown to have the potential to boost sales by up to 33%! So think about what might happen when you take some time to carefully examine which music would best support your formula and strategy.