The impact that music has on people is not only psychological, but also physiological and cognitive. Which is exactly why music is one of the perfect tools for marketers. Whether it is classical or modern, music is used as motivation for the desired emotion and as an impulse for action.

When entering a retail, it is often the stimuli that a consumer is first exposed to. Thus, it is of the utmost importance for the first impression to be a pleasant one. If you have ever been in a silent store, with no music playing in the background, you know just how awkward and uncomfortable this experience might be. On the other hand, if the music is too loud, it can make you feel stressed and uncomfortable. So where is the balance? How do you hit the right note when it comes to selecting music for your retail store?

Music is a way to communicate a brand’s image

Fist and foremost, one should know that music is a way to communicate a brand’s image beyond what the eyes can see. And, given that all brands are different, the feelings wanted to be brought to the customer’s attention are also specific to the identity of the brand. The genre of music played in the background must always represent the brand identity. For example, a retail store selling maternity clothes should avoid heavy metal or rap music, in favor of something calming like nature sounds or kids music.

Hence, you should think about how you can create and differentiate your brand. Given the fact that the music being played is one of the first things that shoppers notice when entering a retail space, the type of music should not be chosen based on what employees want to hear, but on what image a brand wants to transmit to their shoppers. The style, loudness, and tempo of the music one plays can help communicate the brand’s personality to the customers, even before they enter one’s door.

It is often enough to hear notes coming out of a store to realize the brand’s and products’ personality. Like so, imagine you are looking for a new pair of sneakers. You would most probably be drawn into one of the shops that are playing rap, hip-hop or dance music, while you would pass by the stores that are playing classical music, as they are more likely to stock formal wear, rather than sneakers.

Music plays the key role in building the right atmosphere

Secondly, music plays the key role in building the right atmosphere, as well as creating and upgrading the retail experience. On one hand, the music you play has an impact on the store’s environment, while on the other hand, it affects the shopper’s moods, feelings, and emotions. Retailers can create a visible change in the atmosphere by simply changing the tempo and style of background music.

Thus, if you want to create a playful space, you can use high key pop music, while if you opt for a relaxed environment, you should use slower rhythms. Moreover, classical music is a symbol of status, class, and sophistication, therefore encouraging the purchase of more expensive items. Christmas carols exude joy, inspiring shoppers to purchase items relative to the season.

Furthermore, in-store music can help create a private and personal space for customers by masking the noise made by the sound of voices and movements. This gives customers privacy as they make their way through the store.

Setting the pace for the customers

Another important aspect that can be taken care of by using the right music in retail stores is setting the pace for the customers. Speed, rhythm, and volume are directly linked to the pace of customer flow through the store. So, when choosing a music playlist, brands must consider the desired speed they want a visitor to go through their retail space. Playing calm music, with a slower tempo, leads to more time spent in the store, people tend to wander around the aisles slowly. On the other side of the coin, when energetic, loud songs are playing, people tend to accelerate their pace.

A smart strategy would be to play different styles based on the time of the day. For instance, a retailer may decide to play slow music during off-peak times and faster tempos for closing time.

Remembering that music can affect people’s perception of time also comes with advantages. When people are distracted or entertained, they are unlikely to get bored or annoyed. For example, a long queue will feel shorter if the right music is playing in the background. Loud music can lead to a distorted perception of how much time has passed, particularly in females.

But, there is no such thing as the right answer for choosing the perfect volume level in a retail space. In fact, it depends on the brand’s target audience. What is more, the audience’s average age should be the focal point when deciding on the volume level. Studies have shown that young shoppers tend to spend more time shopping when music is played at a higher volume, whereas older shoppers spent more time when the music was in the background or at a lower volume.

Nevertheless, an essential trait in a retailer’s book is knowing how to encourage people to shop. Luckily, music can help with that too, as it can influence what customers choose and how much they buy. Music has a subconscious, yet very real effect on shopping habits. Accordingly, impulsive buys have the tendency to occur the most when pleasant music is playing.  Also, the type of music being played can trigger specific purchases.

For example, more expensive items are bought when there is classical music involved. This might be due to the fact that classical music inspires feelings of high quality and elegance, and thus influencing shoppers’ decisions in that direction.

All in all in-store music can be a big point of differentiation for a brand, as well as a key element in the customers’ retail experience. A retail brand is going to be supported by the right sound, whereas playing the wrong music is bound to have devastating effects.