Want more sales? The data has spoken. Play the right music

MD of Mood Media Australia, Steve Hughes
By MD of Mood Media Australia, Steve Hughes | 11 September 2017
Steve Hughes

Is this not a marketer or business owner’s dream? You want to sell more French wine in your liquor store. What do you do? You play French music while customers are browsing and instantly, sales of French wine shoot up. It’s not as fantastical as you might think, which means it may be time you thought long and hard about the power of music in marketing to shape emotions in real-time.

A study by Curtin University Professor Adrian North in a British off-license found that playing music that was stereotypically French led to consumers buying five times more French wine than they had previously. Five times!

The key, North explained, was that the right music could tip what was a 50/50 decision into a 51/49 decision—in other words, just enough to get the consumer to the counter with French wine in one hand and a credit card in the other.

The example here is quite specific. What if you’re a supermarket, or a department store, or even a tyre shop? Playing French music is clearly going to do little to your sales, unless you sell Michelin Guides … or Michelin tyres perhaps. That doesn’t mean the theory goes out the window. Choosing the most appropriate music is still of great significance.

In a recent quantitative survey, 86% of all people surveyed believe that music makes the shopping experience more enjoyable, while 64% of millennials (25-34 year olds) would rather shop in-store than online if the right mood or atmosphere is created. 72% of those surveyed (and a mighty 87% of millennials) stated that if a store plays music they like, they feel it is a brand they can relate to and connect with.

So how do you curate the right playlist? A playlist that will, in essence, boost your bottom line? The first step is identifying the brand mood and brand positioning, followed by its target consumers’ personality. Are they familiar, or adventurous? Is there a degree of comfort, or a spirit of discovery? Don’t guess, of course. Use the data you have at your disposal to make the most appropriate assumptions.

But don’t get too carried away. You don’t rely 100% on data to come up with your logo or colour scheme, rather, you are guided by it. This is the same for music. Professional music curators (or DJs) should sort through hundreds of songs to pick the ones that meet the brand’s archetypes. The more keyed in a curator can get to the brand and the song, the better the match. Every song played across the system should be reviewed multiple times by living, breathing human beings who go through and listen to the song and listen to the lyrics.

For example, our client Toys”R”Us uses playlists that need to appeal to both children and the adult who has taken them shopping. So we create a playlist of upbeat songs with half the songs appealing to adults and the rest appealing to children. While our client, fast fashion store, Bardot, has a much narrower audience. It’s ideal shopper is fun, expressive, bold, confident, open to adventures, has a zest for life and enjoys nights out. So its in-store music needs to be an extension of that brand and be enjoyable for those shoppers. We look at the music festivals they go to, select artists that fit with the brand, choose a mix of familiar songs in addition to interesting tracks that are just breaking. Then we look at the buyer behavior that the music needs to encourage and the levels of traffic that each store has at different times, and this means there is actually a different playlist for morning and night.

It’s no different to any other facet of a brand’s image. A brand needs a unique vibe and aesthetic that sets it apart from the rest. The logo, colours, staff, ambassadors and tone all play a part in that. Music can, too. Playing the right music is an integral part. If the visual components are the face of the store, the music is the voice. Music is far more than just entertainment for customers—it elicits emotions which affect decisions. You could think of it as a form of subliminal marketing.

Today, with consumers well-accustomed to having on-point music wherever they go, a mere replication of a popular FM radio station piped in over the speakers won’t cut it for a memorable shopping trip. Instead ‘a musical interpretation’ of the brand’s personality and strategy can complement the customers’ experience, especially as businesses such as retailers compete against online shopping.

Want more sales? The data has spoken. Play the right music.

By MD of Mood Media Australia Steve Hughes

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