Science tells us that it takes less than 1.4 nanoseconds for sound to make an impression.
1.4 nanoseconds? Let’s think about that.
When somebody steps into your premises, their cortex is firing on all cylinders. They’re taking in all the visual cues, for sure; the layout of your space, the decor, and the styling. But they’re also making rapid judgments about the music they hear; the genre, tempo, intensity, as well as the song and the artist.
It’s probably obvious you want your space to look great and give your guests a fantastic first impression of your brand, but if you’ve not given a thought to the music you’re playing, you’re not capitalizing on this awesome moment.
Sounds are as crucial to your business as any of your visual assets; it’s that simple.
Get it right, and visitors have a far enhanced perception of the quality of your space. And beyond nurturing those initial impressions of your business, music can extend dwell times, and in turn, improve profits, too.
“Whaaaa?” you say.
Well, again, let’s take a look at some of the science behind customer behavior and our perception of music.
There’s a direct correlation between increased dwell time and increased sales, as a 2007 study by retail analytics experts Path Intelligence and MIT found. For every 1% increase in dwell time, sales increase by 1.3%. So it pays to make people stick around, but how?
An experiment conducted in a US supermarket by R.E. Milliman tracked customer behavior in relationship to the background music played in-store. Music with a higher tempo saw customers travel through the store quickly; they got what they needed and got the heck out of there. Yet when the store played slower music, customers adapted to this more leisurely pace, making more impulsive purchases along the way. Significantly higher profits were generated simply by the store changing its music policy.
Similarly, a 2000 paper by Yalch and Spangenberg explored the effects of playing familiar music to customers, and – at risk of this sounding like a clickbait headline – the results might surprise you.
In this experiment, groups of shoppers were played either familiar or obscure music as they made their way around the store. The group listening to recognizable tunes spent nearly 8% less time shopping. It seems that familiar music increases our arousal levels; when we’re paying too much attention to the songs we hear, time passes slower, and we hurry our shop. It’s time to ditch that ‘Greatest Hits’ playlist right now.
To truly understand what’s going on here, we need to dig even deeper into the realms of science. Humor us; we promise it’s worth it.
You see, two parts of the brain influence how we feel about music. The first, the nucleus accumbens, releases a dopamine hit when we hear music: that’s the same glorious feeling we get from food, sex, or drugs. But it’s another part of our brain, the Brodmann area 47 or BA47, which controls the hit’s intensity.
The BA47 processes language and music: it spends a lot of its time analyzing and predicting patterns. It fires up when it hears things that are similar – yet subtly different – to something it recognizes. So when we listen to songs we think we know but don’t, a live performance of our favorite track, or a great cover version for the first time, BA47 instructs the nucleus accumbens to release more dopamine.
The more dopamine flowing through our brain, the slower time seems to pass. The slower time seems to pass, the longer we stay in-store. And, the longer we stay in-store, the more likely we are to spend money.
There, we said it’d be worth it.
So how are you making music work for your business? Are you confidently driving a stake in the ground as a market leader, or are you just chasing trends? Is your background music making the right impression and encouraging guests to stick around?
Activaire understands the science of music and business. Trust us: we’ll make sure your background music represents your brand and drives up your profitability. All with the freshest sounds imaginable.