Music is one atmospheric factor that differentiates a retail store from its competitors. It is a particularly attractive medium for businesses because it is inexpensive and can be easily changed. It has a predictable drawing power to persons based on their ages and lifestyles. For example, teenagers are usually inclined to rock and pop music, while older professionals may prefer more classical tunes. Knowing these preferences, businesses can then make adjustments to their in-store music so to attract their target market and prolong the time spent within their stores.
Retail managers believe and observations confirm that consumers tend to purchase more when they stay for a longer time in stores. In a study by Yalch and Spangenberg (2000), they observed that the pace of shoppers’ movement varies on the tempo of the songs played in the background. People tend to take more time with slow-tempo background music. As Ke$ha used to sing, people's “hearts beat to the beat of the drums.” While managers also believe that creating a familiar atmosphere influences customers to stay longer and shop, observations showed that using unfamiliar music choices encourage customers to stay even longer than the latter.
Larger retail stores can differentiate areas by tailoring the music per department. This is a practice referred to as zoning by the environmental music industry. "Managers expect in-store music to be more effective when tailored to the listening preferences of the demographic segment shopping in a particular department compared to when the same type of music is played in all departments” (Yalch and Spangenberg, 1993). The same study showed examples wherein two departments catering primarily to younger male shoppers and older women, playing foreground music and background music respectively, resulted in more purchases.
Music can induce moods that can account for various shopping behaviours. It enables the shoppers to perceive departments as more desirable when specific types of music are played. The next time you shop in your favorite store, see for yourself, or rather, listen and feel for yourself.
Richard F. Yalch and Eric Spangenberg (1993). "Using Store Music For Retail Zoning: a Field Experiment”. NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 632-636.
Richard F. Yalch and Eric Spangenberg (2000). "The Effects of Music in a Retail Setting on Real and Perceived Shopping Times”. Journal of Business Research, 49(2):139-147. DOI: 10.1016/S0148-2963(99)00003-X.