Well, not in a bad way. But it sure can help, yes.
According to a research study discussed in the Journal of Marketing by Loyola University professor of marketing, Ronald Milliman, the tempo and volume of the music playing in a store correlate to sales volume. Now, while this study is pretty old, its findings still seem to hold true today. The study looks specifically at grocery stores, where slower music leads to slower traffic flow, which effectively increases the time customers spend in the store and number of purchases they make. Milliman also mentions that this effect of music on behavior can be used to influence the speed at which customers dine in restaurants. Restaurant managers can use upbeat songs to turn tables over faster and slower songs to create a more leisurely environment for the diners.
The qualities and effects of background music are not often paid too much attention, unless the music is very in-your-face (ears?) and can be heard blaring from outside the store (you know who I’m talking about–it rhymes with “Dapper Zombie & Snitch”. But, we’ll discuss music intensity in a moment). However, though you may not be consciously aware of this music, your wallet surely notices. So think about that and keep your ears open the next time you’re in a grocery store or restaurant.
Would you have thought that scent could also potentially increase your impulse buying, as well? It can. According to a more recent study in the Journal of Retailing, the atmospherics of a store, including both music and scent, influence consumer behavior. Researchers Mattila and Wirtz found that “when the arousal levels of ambient scent and background music matched, consumers’ evaluations of the shopping experience were enhanced”. For example, when a “low arousal scent” like lavender is paired with “low arousal music” (i.e. slow-tempo music), or when a “high arousal scent” like grapefruit is paired with “high arousal music,” customers are more likely to have a positive experience in the store.
A 2005 study by the American Psychological Association, however, found that too much music and scent together may be a sensory overload and could decrease customer purchases. That being said, they also found that impulsive shoppers spent an average of $32.89 more on unplanned purchases when there was music present. The researchers in this study have suggested that “music. . . generally improves mood rather than cognition, and impulsive shoppers rely on mood to make purchasing decisions.”
It seems that there is a potential trade-off for stores to consider when deciding to use music, scent, or both. Mattila and Wirtz suggested that having very prevalent music and aromas may reduce customers’ positive feelings of the store after the original “novelty” of the stimuli wears off. However, if the levels of aroma and music match and are used appropriately, they do have a chance at boosting sales.
So although the booming speakers and frequently spritzed cologne at a certain Dapper Zombie & Snitch may keep some people from visiting too often, it can also boost the sales of those skinny jeans. Look out. Music (and scent!) is more powerful than you may have originally thought.
Music Comic of the Day: