Shop to the music: The importance of the right background sound

Shop to the music: The importance of the right background soundStuttgart  - The image is a strange one: An upmarket men's tailor sits in his shop, expensive material all around, rap music blaring from the sound system.

Any customer would recognize immediately that something isn't right. A group of scientists at a Stuttgart media college approached this phenomenon in a research project that studied music's effect on shoppers. The team, led by Professor Eberhard Wuest, reached an interesting conclusion: Shoppers remember what they hear better than what they see.

"Seventy per cent of people remember the music," said Wuest. By comparison only about 3 per cent remember visual advertising elements. Music is even able to turn a stressful shopping experience into a relaxed one, according to the researchers.

Particularly interesting to the psychologists on the team is the intersection between subconscious and conscious perception. Music generates motivation to do things or not to do things. "It is done the exact same way in music therapy," he said.

Exactly what type of music is needed to make a customer feel good is to be examined in subsequent research, said Wuest. Studies already completed have shown that music played in a store must appeal to the customer's individual personality.

"The bait has to attract the fish," said Wuest. A wine dealer, for example, creates a good feeling among customers when French songs are played. Another example is a department store in which lullabies are played for mothers-to-be shopping in the baby department.

Oliver Klatt, director of Platinmusic, explained that the use of music in stores is based on concrete business interests.

"People who feel good stay longer and buy more," Klatt said, describing the results of the study. His company helped sponsor the research in an effort to win new customers for its Point of Sale or POS radio product for stores. There are a half dozen such companies in Germany. Some of the others, like POS, offer a complete radio programme.

Despite the research and commercial entities that offer radio programmes for shops, it is clear that a store's music is only one factor involved in buying. Ideally, subconsciously perceived music must be combined with good sales advice and a pleasant shopping atmosphere, Wuest said. Isn't this in fact a bald-faced manipulation of consumers?

"It has rather more to do with creating a positive ambience than influencing consumers," Wuest maintains. (dpa)