Bad music drives shoppers out of stores

AUTHOR: Inavate

Half of Britain’s shoppers have left a store because they didn’t like the music and a quarter said a bad aural experience would cause them to never return, according to results of a study carried out by Immedia.

The company develops “music strategies” for retailers and claims that the finding demonstrate the danger that brands face by not considering sound carefully.

More than 1,000 British shoppers were asked about their attitudes to in-store music over one week at the end of September 2011.

Three-quarters said they noticed the music playing in-store and out of these 40% stayed longer if they felt the music was well chosen for the environment. Forty per cent said they would spend less time if the music wasn’t suitable.

Bruno Brookes, CEO of Immedia, said: "Brands currently spend upwards of £25 billion a year on visual point of sale material (source - Institute of Sales Promotion).

"However, while the retail, hospitality and FMCG industries take great care in thinking about what customers see, nowhere near the same investment goes into optimising what they hear.

"In fact, audio is the single most effective way to capture the attention and imagination of people who are on the move inside your shop or restaurant. This is supported by numerous scientific studies that demonstrate how an effective music strategy does everything from improve staff morale to enhance the customer experience, to crucially increase sales.

"Especially given the challenging economic environment, it is important to optimise every element of a customer's sensory experience. As a result, we are working with an increasing number of high street names who want the competitive edge that a well thought out music and sound strategy will give them."

Dr Vicky Williamson, scientific advisor to Immedia, added: “Music can profoundly affect our mood, emotions and energy levels. Studies have shown that we naturally exploit these effects everyday by using music to optimise our state of mind. This new survey demonstrates how similarly important ‘background music’ is to our shopping experiences. Music is no less powerful just because it is chosen by someone else.

“In specific terms, in-store music should be chosen with care and attention to the brand or product identity. Studies have shown that a poor degree of fit between brand and music can result in negative customer feedback, lower sales, and fewer customer referrals.

“Capitalising on the general effects of music will only get you so far in boosting a shopping experience. Maximising the positive impact of in-store music requires an understanding of how to match sound and brand.”