Saturday, 6 June 2015

How Music Affects What You Buy in a Grocery Store

I was at the local grocery store and I noticed my head nodding to the background music. Next, I realized I was singing the song (and nodding). I was close to dancing with my cart, oblivious to those around me, in my private happy zone. Okay, I might have do a couple of dance moves.

The song that grabbed my attention is called "Stomp" by the Brothers Johnson (of Strawberry Letter 23 fame). It is a memory song from my youth. As soon as I recognized the chorus I smiled and felt happy. Grocery shopping had become enjoyable.

As I progressed to the dairy section, I wondered what effect my new joyous mood was having on my purchases. Similar to how shopping with children can increase your bill, was the youth in my head doing the same? Was I buying more or different things? I felt I was being more carefree about my choices and buying multiple items on sale seemed like a good move.

When I got home I did some research on music's effects on buying behaviour. Most sources referenced the same studies and I thought this article captured the highlights really well:

  • There are 3 qualities of music impact buying behaviour: Tempo, Volume and Genre
  • Tempo: Slow paced music increases time in store by 38 percent and increases sales by 32 percent
  • Volume: Less time is spent in stores playing loud music versus background music yet the purchases are higher when louder music is played for those younger than 50 years old.
  • Genre: Purchases are higher for classical music over top-40 and the items bought are more expensive.

The research contrasts my perceptions. I think I stay longer in the store and spend more when I was hearing music that I liked, especially memory songs from the past. 

Another study may explain the difference between my perception and retail reality. High tempo music increases the level of arousal which increase the pace you go through a store. It also can cause you to lose focus and distract you from buying. I was definitely distracted.

I have noticed the effect of music on participants at training sessions and change launches. You can excite people or ease them into a reflective mood by the music you play. Perhaps these experiences are similar to those in a grocery store. Both are selling opportunities.


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