This is why slow music increases your revenue

This is why slow music increases your revenue

Let’s start with a small thought experiment. You are watching Lord of the Rings. Comfortable on the couch next to a bowl of popcorn. The movie is about to reach its climax, but instead of epic and heroic music, there is silence.

Would you feel the same relief, joy, and excitement when Gandalf rescues Legolas, Aragorn, and the rest in the battle of Helmsdeep when there is no sound? Even though the pictures and dialogues are the same, would you enjoy the movie as much? What about horror movies – would you feel the same tension and fearful joy when watching a horror movie without the gradually developing freakish music? Maybe it would be even harder to follow the story-line.

A song for every mood

Music does not only trigger moods and emotions, but also helps it by delivering information and creating references.

You have applied these functions of music yourself already. You have a go-to playlist for finding the motivation to workout. When you need to concentrate you listen to different music; and again, a different one for relaxing. Still, what makes different types of music more suitable for a certain kind of situation? What features of music are responsible?

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Feel the rhythm

In general, music can be described by features like tempo, pitch, melody, beat, dynamics, harmony, and rhythm. All of these affect us as listeners, consciously and subconsciously. Listening to music even has an impact on physical mechanisms in our bodies, like the decreased production of the stress hormone cortisol or the increased amount of the released “feel-good” neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.

As you can see, music is a powerful and universal tool. Therefore, it is not surprising that the marketing industry is also using it. But what is the best choice of music for your company’s goals? Let's take you through five ways music influences your customers.

Slow music lets customers walk slower

The tempo of background music influences the time spent in a shop or restaurant. When playing slow-paced music customers move slower through the shop, and therefore spend more time in it. That also has an impact on how much people buy. Slower music, and thus more time spent in the store, leads to higher sales. For a clothing retailer with a wide variety of clothes slower music will reduce the walking pace of visitors. Thereby increasing the chance for them to find something they like. Moreover, in restaurants, people tend to stay longer and order more food when slow music plays.

For fast-paced music, the opposite is true. Fast food restaurants with only a few tables could play up-tempo music to have customers spent less time in the restaurant.

Sell more fruit with high-frequency music

The frequency of background music guides people’s choice of product. The pitch of the background music subconsciously guides our gazes and visual attention and can influence which products customers choose.

High frequencies make us attend to light colours, low frequencies to dark colours. So when high-frequency music is playing, customers are more likely to buy fruit placed on a light-coloured shelve rather than from the dark-coloured shelve next to it. The opposite pattern appeared with low-frequency music.

The connection between sound and visual attention is especially important for online marketing, which relies on visual and auditory cues. By guiding gaze, you can influence what your customers will remember. When using high-pitched background music in an online video, the information presented in bright colours is recalled better. When using low-pitched background music information presented in dark tones is remembered better.

Imagine a supermarket that plays high-frequency music, in which all the fruits and vegetables placed on light shelves, and cookies, chocolate and candy on dark shelves. Would consumers make healthier choices?

The right music makes waiting in line fun again

The overall atmosphere in a shop influences how the quality of the goods and services are perceived. Creating a pleasant experience in a store is crucial for customer satisfaction and high sales.

Environmental factors such as music, lighting, and colours do not only shape the atmosphere, but also leads visitors to determine the quality of the store’s products. That is especially true for new customers. Imagine walking into a new store. You have to take any piece of information to decide whether the products are worth their price. The choice of music is one of those. Also, with the right choice of music, service and waiting times are experienced more positively.

Delivering messages with music

Music helps to build a brand image and an emotional connection with your consumers. Similar to inferences made about the quality of the products, music also allows customers to get an idea of the brand’s image. Let’s take Nike as an example.

When visiting one of their stores, you will most likely hear fast and energetic music — giving you the feeling that you immediately want to start running and achieve your fitness goals. The music helps first-time visitors to form a brand’s personality similar to the brand’s slogan “Just do it”, even if they have never heard it.

To keep your customers loyal to your brand it is also important to play music that is consistent with your brands' image. If the music doesn’t convey what the brand stands for, it is perceived as inconsistent. Thus, happiness with the brand decreases which leads to less time spent in your store. If, on the other hand, the music fits your brand’s overall image the satisfaction with your products is reinforced.

By creating a positive consumer-brand relationship the consumers are involved emotionally.

Music promotes prosocial behaviour

People who listen to music, compared to people who don’t, tend to make more prosocial decisions that benefit others. That is especially true for songs which have prosocial lyrics, such as Love Generation by Bob Sinclair. In a restaurant, these songs in comparison with songs with neutral lyrics lead to a significant increase in given tips. Additionally, prosocial songs seem to reduce expression of prejudice and aggressive racist behaviour. Further, uplifting, positive music increases the likelihood to physically help others.

Think of how music could be used to raise money or help charities, for example, the support of victims of natural disasters.

Apart from using music as a factor of the consumer experience, it can also enhance brand recognition. Music is quickly recalled and appeals to humans on a more basal level than words and language. Regarding our movie night on the couch with popcorn: In Lord of the Rings, every important setting has a distinctive musical theme. Those help the audience to activate knowledge and emotions connected to certain characters and places.

Audio branding

Having a sound auditory signature can increase a brand’s popularity. Have you ever heard of audio branding?

Everybody would immediately recognise the jingle “du-du-du-du-du” of T-Mobile or the “ba-da-ba-ba-baaah” of McDonald’s, even without the distinctive “I’m Lovin’ It”. The benefits of having a catchy audio logo, or sonic logo (or short sogo) are evident as it creates a second signature of the brand next to the visual logo. However, you should not just choose any melody. There are objective factors which should be taken into consideration: a study showed that a jingle consisting of six tones increases the willingness-to-pay of the customers the most. Sogos with fewer (three) or more (nine) tones were perceived as less valuable.

As you can see music is a powerful tool and should be considered in every company’s marketing plan to enhance sales. Depending on your goals certain kinds of music can help you reach them.

If your inner consumer is now wondering whether you are buying those shoes because you want to or whether it is the music whispering in your ear to buy them, don’t worry! There is no need to start digging out your earplugs every time you go shopping.

Music only guides your attention or your mood for you to lean towards a specific option. It is still your choice. Being aware of it will help you to not “listen” to what the music is telling you. However, don’t forget that music most of the times aims at positively enhancing your shopping experience.

Besides, background sound is only one sensory factor that influences your purchasing behaviour. So, to indeed make a neutral decision on what to buy, you might also need a blindfold and a nose clip.


(Milliman, 1982, 1986).

(Hagtvedt & Brasel, 2016)

(Baker et al., 1994)

(Hui, Dube, Chebat, 1997)

(Beverland, 2006)

(e.g. Morrison & Beverland, 2003)

(Jacob et al., 2010) (Greitemeyer & Schwab, 2014)

(North et al., 2004)

(Krishnan et al., 2012)

Clara Vetter

Clara Vetter

Combines the art of storytelling with the science of behavioural psychology & neuroscience

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