I think all of us can recall a situation in which music has impacted our mood. For instance, when you are feeling down or blue, you can act as either one of these following two types of people: you either crave sad, slower music as it speaks to you in that particular moment, or you look for upbeat music in order to cheer you up. Either way, through our predilection for acting a certain type of way, music creates habits for us. We can see that in even less abstract ways: we might have a song that we like to put on while we get ready, we might have a song that makes us jump right out of our seats at a party. That basically means music infiltrates into our habits, becoming part of them.

If music can be of such great impact on our basic habits and rituals, it should also be able to influence our spending habits. Once again, music becomes an indispensable tool for retailers, who can benefit from being aware of the ways in which they can influence their customers.

When it comes to spending habits, it seems like the tempo of the music can lend a hand to store owners and managers, in achieving specific effects within their stores. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which a literal change of pace can be essential for a successful retail store.

Different tempos lead to changes in the influx of clients paying a visit to your store

Retail stores are 100% dependent on their clients. However, how many times has your store been almost empty, and even the few clients that were coming in were leaving in a hurry? On the flipside, how many times has your store been way too full to offer a comfortable shopping experience to everyone? If your answer to any of those questions is any other than “never”, then your store is sure to benefit from the effect music tempo has on the human psyche.

Since the 1980s, scientists have been researching these effects. By observing customers in supermarkets, they have noticed that people tend to spend less time and money in stores where the music is fast-paced, while doing just the opposite in stores where the music was calm and serene.

What does this imply for us, as retailers? Well, it can manage for us the influx of people coming into our stores. During rush hours, when the store is very crowded, you can play music with a fast tempo, in order to make people browse and pay quicker, so as to make more room for other potential customers. But, on slow days, when you want to make sure everyone makes all the purchases they want and can, you can play slower music, which will make them calmer and feel like they can browse for however long they want.

Fast food chains are “guilty” of this, as it seems impossible to set foot into one of their restaurants, during peak times, without feeling as if your ear drums are being bombarded. That is because during rush hour, the main goal of fast food chains is to serve and accommodate as many customers as possible. Faster music ensures the fact that people don’t linger for too long at their tables, making room for other customers. On the opposite end, fancy cafes will play slower music, to make their customers stay for more time and increase their orders of food and drinks.

Therefore, if fast-paced music can make our customers feel in a rush and leave earlier with the possibility of spending less, should we avoid playing upbeat music and stick to the downtempo one? The short answer is a plain and simple no. This next use for music in retail caters specifically to upbeat music, and is sure to increase your sales.

Music tempo can encourage impulse buying

I remember a conversation two girls were having quite close to me on the train, around Christmas last year. One of them was telling the other about how she went to a home decor store to buy curtains for her new apartment, but instead she ended up purchasing a lot of Christmas decorations and no curtains, even though she already had plenty of them.

I am pretty sure this is a situation we can all relate to. In this girl’s case, I suppose the said home decor store was playing upbeat Christmas music. Think Wham! and that compulsory Mariah Carey song.

That is what got her into the Christmas spirit, making her consider buying something she had not had the slightest intention of buying.

Impulse buying seems to be the new way in which we shop. Sometimes, we go to stores with a shopping list that we immediately forget about, because everything on display seems appealing. And that is because impulse buying is closely related to mood: when we feel good, we tend to be more optimistic about our needs and budget, thus feeling like we should allow ourselves to buy more. And we do.

How can retailers make sure that this effect is amplified? Music seems to help here as well, according to scientific studies. The majority of music geeks can already tell from experience the close relationship between music and mood, as we’ve discussed before. If you want to create that feel-good atmosphere inside your store, choose music that is upbeat and fun. Turn your store into a mini-nightclub, where everyone is sure to have the time of their lives. Your clients are sure to feel the encouragements you are offering them, and start considering new purchases.

Other than the effect you want to achieve, pay attention to the personality of your store

Studies have shown that when slow, classical music is played in stores that sell more refined products such as antiques or wine, people tend to buy the more expensive products, as opposed to the cheaper ones. This is due to the fact that we tend to look at those products as being fancy, maybe even posh. Therefore, classical music makes sure that customers spend a lot of time browsing for more than just one product, feeling that their view on the products is validated by the sensory input they are receiving, which in turn makes them choose the more refined option.

In a clothing store that caters to the youth however, retailers should stick to pop music, because it will guarantee a great shopping experience for the target customer.

Now that you have the knowledge, what are you waiting for? Start experimenting with tempo, observe clients’ needs and try to choose the beat that caters to them.