Background Music in Business – Why is it Important?

If you aren’t taking advantage of focused and targeted background music in business, then you’re missing out on proven benefits of increased revenue and customer retention! Music has been playing in the backgrounds of stores and restaurants for decades now, and typically nobody, including business owners like yourselves, pays much attention to it unless it is done so poorly as to be noticeable. Like everything else in retail, background music and its correct application have become a science. And this science has proven itself in the form of higher average tickets and customer satisfaction – the holy grail for retailers.

Smart retailers approach the customer experience from a holistic point-of-view. Retail has been undergoing severe growth pains over the last several years, and the competition for consumer dollars is more fierce than ever. Nowadays, it’s especially true that the retailer who provides a pleasant experience for their customers will be rewarded. Background music, correctly applied, is one significant component of providing a positive consumer’s experience! Poorly executed music programs, on the other hand, will cause your business to suffer.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all subject to subliminal influences when shopping. All the details of your shopping experience are crafted from specialists whose sole mission in life is to increase the amount of money you spend during your trip. Everything from the color palette to lighting to background music has been studied, analyzed, and programmed for maximum positive effect. Different retail stores will have particular setups tailored for the clientele they want to focus on and the product types they are offering. The question for you as a retailer is: “How do I sort through this maze of information and make the most effective choices for my business?”

Using Background Music Purposefully

A 2013 paper published in Frontiers of Psychology explains how previous research categorized the response to music into four psychological categories or dimensions: emotional, social, cognitive and arousal. The most important of these four dimensions for you to focus on are:

  • Emotional – Emotional music calls to the listener to feel something: happiness, sadness, or excitement, for example.
  • Cognitive – Music that has a cognitive function will allow shoppers to feel either removed from the world or more engaged in it.
  • Arousal – Arousal-focused music excites the auditory sense and invites the listener to action.

Selecting background music sends messages to shoppers, and to maximize results, you need to be sending the right messages. You want customers to feel confident and positive about their choices and you want them to be excited to make a purchase and live in the present! When music engages the cognitive, emotional, and arousal functions of your customers, they will feel more positive about their experience in your business.

While no one selection of music will guarantee that all of your customers will have a positive experience in your business, you want to maximize the return on your investment in music and reach the most shoppers possible. Whatever your business is, there is a music selection that will help you influence the majority of your customers.

The Basics of Background Music in Business:

Tempo and Pace

Tempo and pace are the simplest ways to influence your customers. They are fundamental to how your shopper feels while in your store. The scientific consensus is that slower-paced music will help consumers take their time making purchases; they will be more leisurely in their approach, studying more products, enjoying the atmosphere, and spending more money. Conversely, faster-paced background music in business will have shoppers moving quicker and making fewer purchases.

Volume – Less is Sometimes More

Music volume is a tricky topic. Depending on your clientele, the music levels can either attract them and make them enjoy your shop or drive them away. Walking through a mall passing by different shops, you can hear the varying volume levels and realize what type of customer each store’s target may be. The volume from an Abercrombie store is much different from Victoria’s Secrets.

What is the proper volume for your shop? The quick answer is – “It depends.” Selecting the best volume level will take some experimenting, as different people have a varied sensitivity to volume. Studies have shown that some people can be adversely affected by loud music, even triggering a “flight-or-fight” response, which is the last thing any retailer wants!

Genre – Tailored to Your Clientele 


In a smaller business your target market is generally more specific, so tailoring the genre of music is especially critical. You want to attract your target audience and make them feel comfortable shopping in your store because they’re hearing similar music that they would play at home or in the car. There is scientific proof that genre changes perception and buying habits. Playing classical music in a wine store has been shown to increase sales with consumers buying higher priced wines, and playing cartoon music in a candy store also increased sales!

Choosing a music provider that fully understands the benefits of using the appropriate genre for your business is an important decision. A provider with the ability to tailor a music selection for your needs will reap the rewards as compared to an out-of-the-box program. Mixhits Radio programmers have decades of experience and can create a successful and tailored program for any type of business.

Time Perception

Name one thing you never see in a restaurant…Clocks!

Restaurants are successful when they provide a comfortable environment for the diner to enjoy the food, drink, and ambiance. Time spent at the table is often an indicator that shows how comfortable the clients feel. In general, most retail establishments have very few, if any, clocks hanging around. They want the customer to experience the environment leisurely and take their time to make purchases.

Background music in business plays an important role in altering time perception. When people are enjoying the music they are listening to, time spent is less important. They tend to be more relaxed, less hurried and will spend more time in the shop.

Background Music: An Essential Piece of the Puzzle

Having a profitable retail business depends on many interrelated factors, including background music! Music will not, by itself, increase your sales. Paying attention to product selection, placement, marketing, etc. work together with proper music selection to create that holistic experience mentioned earlier.

Background music in business is a vital tool for creating and maintaining a success. Using the right combinations of genre, tempo, and volume will create a pleasing experience for your customers and grow your business. If you’re looking for a music provider to improve the background music for your business, contact Mixhits Radio today!

From Bach to Rock, Mixhits Radio has the right music to create the perfect atmosphere for every type of business!