The Sound of Music

The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but is your store musically enhanced? The right music can make customers linger longer in your store, increasing your odds that they'll make a purchase. But it's also true that if a store plays the wrong music for its customers, they may boogie on out.
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The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but is your store musically enhanced? The right music can make customers linger longer in your store, increasing your odds that they'll make a purchase. But it's also true that if a store plays the wrong music for its customers, they may boogie on out.

DMX Music, a supplier of digital music programming for stores, commissioned a study to assess the effect of store music on retail customers and found that one out of five consumers queried (20 percent) said they've spent more time in a store as a result of the music that was playing during their visit. This figure increased slightly when consumers visited stores three or more times a week (21.5 percent) and those with incomes of more than $100,000 (23.8 percent). Younger women were more likely to linger in a store with good music than were older females or men of any age.

But hold on! The study also found that music could be a retail repellent driving people out the door. If the music being played is far from customers' favorite genres, they are likely to leave without making a purchase. This is especially true of older customers. No surprises there but chances are the average age of your loyal outdoor customer is closer to 40 than 30. And here's another interesting observation, older shoppers (over age 50) shop longer and purchase more when background music plays, while younger shoppers (age 25-49) respond better to foreground music.

So what does all this information mean to you? Music can have a subliminal effect on customers, influencing the speed at which they shop, their willingness to buy and the experience they take out of the store. But choosing the right music is not as easy as it sounds.

Several factors must be considered in choosing the right genre of store music -- the age of your customers, the time of day and the mood of shoppers. Consider allocating music for certain time segments and mixing various styles and artists to target music for precisely the right moment for your customers.

Sharon Leicham's merchandising column appears twice a month in SNEWS. Leicham is the author of Merchandising Your Way to Success and How to Sell to Women and is a frequent contributor to trade magazines writing on merchandising and marketing topics. She recently launched a website, www.merchandisinghub.com, with information targeted at the independent specialty retailer.

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