Generally speaking, people are perfectly aware of the benefits of music for their mood, but find it a bit hard to believe that it can also influence their behavior and perception, and also be unconsciously persuaded by it. It is now scientifically proven that music can influence our behavior and that this situation is constantly exploited by retailers who use music so as to improve the way in which customers perceive the store, the products and the entire experience of shopping. Many experiments have demonstrated an important impact on sales in stores that effectively adjust their music to the type of customers or to the products they sell.

Other experiments ensure us that music has an impact on how people perceive a certain environment and on how they would react, based on how they feel. The so-called musical fit is highly explored in retail for its benefits on setting an atmosphere for customers that are always in search for the best shopping experience.

Stores use music as a part of visual merchandising

Stores use music as a part of visual merchandising, a set of strategies that are meant to improve the layout of the store and optimize the process of purchasing. There are some reasons for which music is used in retail: to set a tempo, to energize or relax customers, to make them feel comfortable during the process of shopping, to slow their sense of time and to define the products.

Each music style has a distinct impact on customers and this is the reason why stores choose carefully their background music. There are even special playlists created for different types of stores, many retailers being aware of the fact that just turning the radio on isn’t enough for the entertaining plan they have in mind for their customers. Stores select different music styles for each time of the day, keeping in mind the fact that customer’s mood changes throughout the day.

While some stores play ambient chill out music or top 40, others choose more refined music, such as classical or jazz. Classical music used as background music in stores sets a sophisticated atmosphere, rendering the illusion of exclusiveness and high-quality products. This music style is psychologically associated with maturity, formality and higher socio-economic status.

People generally associate exclusiveness and sophistication with a guarantee for quality. In high-end stores, classical music can lead to a tendency of perceiving products even more valuable, customers feeling a tendency to conform to the setting implied by the music and pay more. Music is more persuasive when it fits the persuasion context, as psychologists Park and MacInnis have stated since 1991. Classical music may be effective in triggering increased spending, but only for products or brands where this music style seems appropriate. Jewelry stores, high-end clothing store or refined restaurants generally play classical for its ability to “fit” the brand.

How to achieve performance by playing classical music

The influence of classical music on customer behavior and the perceived atmosphere was investigated through many experiments and now it is scientifically proven that classical music can improve the attitude customers have about the store and the products, the situation leading to an increase in sales.

One of the most eloquent examples of how classical music can drive sales of more expensive products is provided by an experiment that was conducted in a wine store where classical music was played for 2 months, at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on successive Fridays and Saturdays. Classical music was played here along with To 40, the most telling result suggesting that classical music influenced customers to spend more money.

The most important result of the experiment though is connected to the tendency that was registered among customers to buy more expensive wines. While the classical music was on, sales on more expensive wines have grown significantly. Psychologists explain that when given an unfamiliar setting (restaurant, store), consumers generally seek for external cues so as to appropriate their behavior.

Classical music, in this case, proves to be the best trigger in manipulating customer behavior. The results of the experiment further suggest that retailers should pay considerable attention to the symbolic meaning behind each purchasing experience. When people are in search for the best experience regarding purchasing something they will certainly be ready to spend more because they generally perceive the price as being the right one.