If you’ve ever played a game of musical chairs, you have an idea of how music can aid in flow control. When the tempo speeds up, there’s a natural inclination to move quickly and if the music slows, the natural inclination is to reduce your speed a bit. Using custom designed music in a retail setting has much the same effect on peoples’ movements in-store as it does in that beloved childhood game. By making use of carefully selected tunes, you can influence your customers’ mindsets and improve traffic flow at peak and off-peak hours for optimal revenue.

How Music Influences Shoppers

The effect of music on the psychology of shopping and the behavior of shoppers has been studied time and time again, with each study yielding new insights and interesting results. For example, we know that music has an effect based on Donovan and Rossiter’s 1982 study explaining the PAD (pleasure-arousal-dominance) model, wherein it was concluded that business owners who appealed to the brain’s “feel-good” receptors that produce oxytocin, adrenaline and cortisol could garner the favor (and spending power) of their shoppers.

When it comes to using music to control the flow of traffic in your store, the basic explanations just don’t cut it: it doesn’t just matter that you’re stimulating customers’ brains, but how. Volume, tempo and even genre have profound, studied and measured effects on the behavior of shoppers.

Choosing the Right Music for Traffic Flow Control

Genre matters when using music to appeal to your customers. A good first step is figuring out what music appeals to your target market. An upscale restaurant catering to the affluent older adult demographic might do well to choose a soundtrack of classical music, whereas a retail store that appeals to the pre-teen and teen alternative set would almost definitely drive its customer base away by playing that same orchestral score.

But target market demographics can only get you so far. For example, that retail store that appeals to the teen alternative market? There’s a good chance that the customers’ parents will accompany them and have a final say in purchases. Heavy death metal with driving riffs and unintelligible screams might negatively influence the teens’ older shopping companions, but pop-punk might be appealing and inoffensive enough to appeal to both the target market and the accompanying adults who have a final say in how much is spent in the store.

To get the most bang out of your buck, it’s important to appeal to your customer base without driving away those who fall outside your most common market demographics. If you’re using music for the sole purpose of traffic control in your store, playing a less appealing song during peak traffic times encourages customers not to linger. During lulls in the day, playing a song or two that directly appeals to your target market can cause them to engage more and spend more as a result of their enjoyment.

Use the Right Volume

Not only does the genre of music impact customer habits, but the volume it’s played at has an effect, too. In a 2013 study, Myriam V. Thoma, et. al., concluded that louder tunes triggered psychobiological stress in participants. Basically, if you want to get customers out of your store quickly, it’s possible to trigger a fight-or-flight response by dialing up the volume.

It isn’t quite so simple, though. Louder music can make impulse shoppers spend more, but also regret their purchases later (leading to a possible increase in returns and decrease in revenue). Music played softly and in the background can lead customers to purchase fewer items at a higher price point, but they’ll linger more.

Tempo Matters

Just like that game of musical chairs from your childhood, speeding up the tempo of music causes customers to move more quickly through your store as they experience an increased sense of urgency. Play songs too fast, and they might give up and leave without purchasing anything because the latent feeling of pressure is too great. Play music at a leisurely pace and they might linger for hours, indulging their senses and clogging the aisles.

Properly combined with genre selection and volume, choosing carefully paced songs can help move customers in and out efficiently during peak traffic times, while using more leisurely sounds during the slower parts of your sales day can urge customers to think about their purchases and decide on bigger ticket items.

How a Professionally Designed Playlist Can Help

Genre, song selection, volume control and pacing are just the basic factors that need to be considered when designing a playlist to control the flow of traffic in a retail setting. Not only do the songs need to appeal to your target market first (without alienating other shoppers), they need to be just the right pace to encourage the proper impulses and behaviors, while played at the right volume to keep customers engaged and tuned in.

Beyond the basics, though, a musical playlist for your business needs to flow seamlessly from one song to the next to avoid jarring your customers’ senses and causing an unfavorable psychological response. Enlisting the help of a professional to create a custom designed in-store playlist can pay off immensely. For example, Retail Radio can help you choose the right songs to optimize sales and make your day flow seamlessly.

Creating a flawless playlist doesn’t just involve finding the songs and slapping them together for consumption: you also need to make sure the songs you choose are rights-secured for public listening. If you don’t have the proper licensing, you could face thousands of dollars in fines. A professional playlist service, like the one we offer, can help you ensure your music is properly licensed to avoid hassles.

Does Music Improve Flow Control in Stores?

There’s no doubt that music can help control the flow of traffic in stores: it’s psychologically proven and scientifically tested. When you’re dealing with customer behavior and emotions, it’s crucial to get it just right or your sales can suffer. Using a custom-designed in-store playlist for flow control in your business can pay off, provided the service you use helps you secure the rights and tailor your playlist to your audience on any given day.