How Music Affects Customer Behavior and Spend

How music affects mood has been a very interesting topic over the years. Music has been with humanity for thousands of years, probably around the same period when human intelligence began to develop.

It started with rudimentary drum beats, then moved to traditional and folk music, made it to classical, and then to the wide range of contemporary music that is played today. Music has continued evolving. Research has proven that music affects our emotional and psychological state.

Music and human behavior are co-related and different types of music impact us psychologically in different ways. Businesses have used music to influence consumer behavior for a long time. Background music is used to either relax or invigorate customers depending on the business. Let’s try to understand how music affects mood and influences consumers’ spending patterns.

How The Brain Interprets Music

Our brain processes music as sound waves. When sound waves reach the inner part of the ear, they activate the brain’s auditory nerves. Our brain as a whole processes the different components of the music like pitch, rhythm, and timbre.

So, how does music affect mood? The right music stimulates the reward center of the brain which evokes a feel-good feeling and makes us happy. Our minds and bodies react subconsciously to music being played. It influences our behavior, lifts our moods, and can help us perform better and finish our tasks efficiently.

The psychology behind music influencing consumer behavior

Psychologists Albert Mehrabian and James A Russel did research and developed the PAD model. PAD stands for Pleasure, Arousal, and Dominance. This model shows how these three responses to music played can affect the listeners’ and consumers’ behavior. If the music elicits a positive response (pleasure), and stimulates the consumer (arousal), and nudges them to explore (dominance), then the shopper will spend more amount of time in shopping aisles and in browsing the products which may lead to higher sales. But if the music elicits a negative response, it can have a detrimental effect and push the consumers away. Retailers and other businesses should study their target demographic and play background music that aligns with their customer base.

Aspects of Music that Influence Consumer Decisions

How does music affect mood? The following aspects of music influence human behavior and can be used to get a positive response and increased sales from your customers.

a. Tempo

Tempo is the pace of the beats of the music. Fast music has a different psychological impact compared to slow music. Studies prove that consumers match the tempo of background music played at retail establishments. High tempo music leads to consumers spending less time browsing as they move quickly through the store. Slow tempo music leads to consumers spending more time in the stores. This fact can be utilized in different ways by different businesses. A fast-food chain can play high-tempo music to turn tables faster and serve more customers while a supermarket or retail business can play slow tempo music so consumers spend more time and buy more products.

b. Volume

Volume is the output level of sound and music. It ranges from silent to loud. The volume of music greatly affects the time spent by consumers in a store. Usually, playing loud music negatively affects the footfalls in a store. Consumers get distressed and make their exit quickly. Very loud music even repels the customers from visiting the store, ultimately leading to decreased sales and revenue. Retail stores therefore should play soft background music to attract customers to shop and spend more time on the premises.

c. Genre

Genre is the type of music. It ranges from country, rock, pop, hip hop, heavy metal, trance, techno, etc. Genres affect consumers individually based on their musical preference. Studies on different genres of background music played at different businesses led to the finding that playing jazz and lounge music influences consumers to buy more and increases sales. When western classical music plays in the background, customers prefer to buy and pay more for expensive products. You should research and find the genre of choice of your target demographic and play it accordingly.

d. Music Mode

There can be major and minor music modes. How music affects mood and influences sales? By combining mode and tempo the sales of a store can be increased. Slow tempo music combined with minor modes leads to increased sales in almost all cases.

Combining Aspects of Music to Create a Positive Shopping Environment

Music can be combined to influence consumer spending. Let’s look into the results of some studies on the effects of music on different purchasing environments.

a. In Wine Stores

Studies found that the choice of background music affected wine sales. Playing French music led to more French wine sales and playing German music increased the sales of German wines considerably. Playing western classical music increased the sales of expensive wines but playing pop and contemporary music did not affect wine sales.

b. Food Preference

Studies found that background music choices affected the food choices of the participants. Participants picked the food items related to the culture whose music played in the background. Those who listened to oriental music chose Chinese food items more and those who listened to Bollywood Indian music preferred Indian cuisine.

c. Price Variance

Different genres of music also influence the price and value perception of consumers. Consumers listening to western classical music choose and are willing to pay more for luxury items while those listening to country music prefer shopping for utilities but not luxury items. The background music that complements a brand and items offered can increase a store’s sales.

d. Intention to Purchase

Studies found that playing happy background music increases the consumer’s intention to purchase products. Stores that smell good and play soft and peppy music consistently increased their footfalls. Women’s clothing stores that play family-centric music have higher sales and more returning customers. The right background music enhances your brand value and increases your customers and sales.


Once you understand how music affects mood and influences consumer behavior, you can use it to create perfect background music specifically targeted at your intended customer base. This will lead to increased sales and satisfied and returning customers.

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