Posted by: kaleidophonic | October 14, 2011

Coffeeshop ramblings: Music and consumer behavior

Happy Friday!

I’m back in my usual coffee-shop, on a study date with a bunch of buds. My friend Leo is working here tonight and she has this theory that the chill music playing today is making people tired. She’s going to change it to something more upbeat – thinking it will make people buy more coffee… Hmm, controlling consumer behaviour through music? I’m sure I”m not the first person to think about that…

So I did a quick bit of research online, and found out that the best known scholarly research in this area has been done by a duo known as North and Hargreaves, who have published the results of studies into the influence of music on customers in restaurants, cafeterias, banks, cars, and shopping malls. They’re mostly interested in the psychological effects of listening to or hearing music. Far out.

Beyond that, I also found a website called “Music Works“, dedicated to showing businesses how music can help them in myriad ways: boosting their employees’ moods, boosting sales, controlling or producing certain kinds of behaviors, etc.

But anyways, after this (admittedly quick) research, and skimming through a few articles, I have come to the conclusion that while changing the music in the coffee-shop might alter people’s behaviours, the evidence suggests the contrary to Leo’s theory. In fact, the slow music might make people linger here longer, thus giving them more time to buy stuff.

So, I asked her for her conclusions, based on experience. She said people are definitely more energized when they play up-beat music, and that if that music can be heard outside, people often come in off the sidewalk. But she’s not sure if there’s a real ratio between this music and the amount of sales. Incidentally, the artist guaranteed to make people linger here longest? Leonard Cohen. And the artist guaranteed to make people buy stuff? Electro-swing group Caravan Palace. Electro-swing is trending, man. Watch for it.


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