Background music and sound systems have great potential to influence consumer behaviour towards sales. Retailers have long awaited measurement and execution standards to maximise this potential.
Equal Strategy Founder Simon Faure-Field believes that quality sound is both a merchant’s tool and a competitive advantage.
In the following article, he explains how background music helps define a unique store experience and separates it from other stores by entertaining customers, employees and anyone else appreciating the brand.
Like nothing else, it helps define a unique store atmosphere and separates it from other stores by entertaining customers, employees, and anyone else appreciating the brand.
Imagine a customer shopping for athletic gear in a sporting goods store that is as quiet as a library or with a sound system riddled with static.
What influence — positive or negative — does that environment have on the customer’s opinion of the store and motivation to buy merchandise? Businesses can’t afford to lose a customer when it is very affordable to win them over with effective audio merchandising.
On that premise, businesses are turning more and more to creative music and quality sound systems to differentiate their brands and excite and entertain customers.
This place feels just right
As a design tool, audio sets the mood of a store and can cause people to tap their toes and think, “This place just feels right.”
One study on consumer behavior found that seven of ten retail customers preferred businesses with music, and six of ten ended up spending more in their purchases, thanks to music’s influence. Another report showed a retailer increase revenue by 38% when using low tempo music.
Since the introduction of business audio over 75 years ago, there has never been any kind of industry standards for the design, installation, and performance of business music systems.
In the absence of industry standards, some key players took on a leadership role to identify, document, and enforce fundamental methods and procedures for the benefit of the businesses that would employ such standards. The standard is simply a process that can be applied to each retailer’s unique needs
As a result, a number of retailers, sound system designers, and installers now find sound systems can be clearly outlined, easy to operate, and consistent and balanced across a chain.
Primarily, a collaborative effort between the sound system designer, music stylist and the retailer must be held to establish what the performance needs are for that specific environment so the designer can work on how to deliver the music and, if applicable, advertising messaging.
What mood do they want to create ?
How is the brand positioned ?
Is the music classical?
Edgy hip-hop, chill out, new age, techno or pop rock?
What type of tonality does this type of music require?
What tempo, pitch and textures ?
What low and high volume settings will maintain store consistency?
Are there areas of the store where activity increases or decreases throughout the day?
What are the customer traffic patterns ?
The answers to these questions help define the design of the system and most importantly the content.
The business music industry should be viewed as an art as much as a science.
With documented performance criteria as the framework of a quality sound system design, the art of music can take hold in the business environment.
From the collaborative meetings with the retailer, the sound system designer takes note of the artistic impressions and demographic considerations that the retailer needs in the environment. The designer must then methodically seek out high performance audio components from leading manufacturers, detailing for the installer how the components should be put together.
The installer’s work and the system’s ongoing performance can be scientifically measured to verify that the system meets the original expectations of the retailer.
The art of background music programming
Then the art of music programming can come through with precise execution of the music style, tempo, vocals, and all other features that will appeal to the store’s audience.
High fashion retailers today have the ability to combine the strengths of creative audio entertainment with their visual merchandising decisions.
Integrate ambient music into visual merchandising
When you start integrating sound into visual merchandising you realize we’re not talking about visual merchandising after all, we’re talking about merchandising and marketing; and I think that’s where the discussion ought to be all the time.
But when retailers take into account not only auditory factors but also olfactory and scent stimuli, then you are really ready to take your brand atmospherics to the next level.
Background music and scent marketing synergise beautifully in the retail environment, creating a 360-degree sensory environment in which the brand can live, breathe and function.
For the Asian region these ideas remain cutting edge but already many retailers are catching on to the possibilities of addressing the total brand atmosphere.