Effects of music on human behavior
It is generally known that music can significantly influence shopping behavior depending on its tempo and loudness. Slow, mellow music played at a low to medium volume might inspire the shopper to linger in the aisles and spend more time considering a new purchase, while loud and upbeat music could help the shop-assistants rush the last customers to the cash desk at a closing time. And yet, recent studies have shown that the impact music has on consumers is even more powerful than that and product choice directly depends upon national specificity and genre of the background music played in the shop.
It is only logical to surmise that hearing French music in the background would evoke certain cultural stereotypes – like croissants and baguettes – in the consciousness of the shopper. This has recently been proved to be true by a team of psychologists led by Adrian North and Lorraine Sheridan of Curtin University and Charles Areni of Macquarie University (2016). The researchers specify that German music might prompt the consumers to imagine beer and bratwurst, while French music might make them think of wine and the Eiffel Tower (North, Sheridan & Areni, 2016). In an experiment held by North and colleagues 120 Scottish college students were divided into four groups three of which had a certain type of musical background: American (“The Beach Boys”), Chinese (“The Peking Brothers”) and Indian music (“Sunidhi Chauhan”), while the fourth group was asked to stay in a quiet room. The students had to look at a menu which included dishes from the American, Chinese and Indian cuisine. The experiment resulted in two significant findings: first, the background music strongly influenced the choice of dishes; secondly, students better remembered those menu items which related to the music played in the given room (North, Sheridan & Areni, 2016). The study has shown that the direct impact music has on the consumer depends on the country of origin of a musical piece and the extent to which national specificity is retained. By evoking congruent images in the buyer’s imagination such music can create an urge to buy products imported from the relevant country and to choose them over the equivalents coming from other countries, but it may also have a lasting influence upon the customer by preserving in the memory the relevant shopping items which possess bright national specificity.
How does the music industry affect the economy
Apart from the country of origin, the genre of background music plays a crucial role in product selection. It has been shown that classical music associated with the social elite can prompt shoppers to spend more on luxury products such as jewelry and perfumes (the so-called “social identity” products), whereas country music makes the customers more inclined to select utilitarian goods like a toothbrush or disposable stationary while being prepared to pay a higher price for them (North, Sheridan & Areni, 2016). Thus, well-selected music background can boost sales, but ill-chosen music which does not match the image of the product can discourage shoppers to pay more for the given products. Moreover, the researchers claim that the effect that the genre of music has upon the customers can be enhanced through application of two extrinsic factors: a series of images illustrating the chosen stereotype, be it upmarket range of products or utilitarian goods, and artificial time pressure which forces the customer to select products quickly (North, Sheridan & Areni, 2016). Visual images and a mildly stressful situation will make the psyche of the customer more sensitive towards delicate musical hints.
Obviously, well-chosen background music can be an efficient marketing tool which will help encourage the customer to select certain goods. But to achieve success the shop-owners should pay special attention to a few factors, such as tempo, volume, national coloring, genre and visual imagery. It is still to be found out by the psychologists if the gender of the singer and the content of lyrics can influence the product selection too.
North, A. C., Sheridan, L. P., & Areni, C. S. (2016). Music Congruity Effects on Product Memory, Perception, and Choice. Journal of Retailing, 92 (1), 83-95. doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2015.06.001
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