Rhythms of Retail: How Background Music Psychologically Influences Consumer Behavior

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What if we tell you there’s science behind the music you hear in stores?

Gordon Bruner’s study shows that background music shapes consumer behavior by influencing emotions, thoughts, actions, and perceptions. You may have thought of background music lightly, but with these effects, music significantly influences consumer engagement and decision-making.

Let’s take a closer look at how the strategic use of music can influence your customer’s buying behavior.


Evoking Emotional Responses

Consumers often make purchasing decisions based on their emotional responses to products or brands. When people are exposed to music that evokes specific emotions, they will likely experience those emotions themselves.

For example, imagine a customer is happy or excited while listening to upbeat music in a retail store. They may be more likely to make impulsive purchases or have a more positive attitude toward the products.


Influencing Decision-Making

Richard Petty and John Cacioppo’s Dual Process Theory of Decision Making suggests that there are two distinct cognitive processes involved in decision-making:

  • Intuitive – fast and driven by emotions
  • Analytical – slower and driven by rational thinking

While your service or product’s features and benefits can support the analytical process, background music can influence the intuitive process by evoking emotions and affecting consumers’ intuitive judgments and preferences.

For example, soothing music at a resort spa can elicit feelings of calm and tranquility, causing customers to perceive their services as more relaxing and desirable, increasing their likelihood of staying longer.


Driving Consumer Actions

Background music can drive consumer actions by creating “associations. “When consumers repeatedly encounter a stimuli (in this case, background music) in a particular context, they develop automatic responses or behaviors associated with that environment over time.

For example, if upbeat music is consistently played during promotional events, consumers may associate it with excitement, which can lead to purchases or higher brand engagement.


Crafting Memorable Ambience

The Mood Congruent Memory Theory suggests that people are more likely to remember information that is harmonious with their current mood or emotional state. Background music can influence consumers’ moods, affecting their perception and memory of their shopping experience.

For example, playing nostalgic music in a vintage-themed store can evoke nostalgia and provide customers with a memorable shopping experience. This causes them to associate memories with vintage cues along with the brand and store environment.


Shaping Brand Perception

A schema is like a mental folder in your brain where you keep information about certain things, like ideas or objects. According to The Schema Theory, these schemas help you organize and understand the world around you by giving you a framework to categorize and make sense of new information.

For example, a luxury schema might include high-quality materials, elegant designs, fancy classical music, and designer handbags. This is why playing sophisticated classical music in a high-end fashion boutique can help consumers perceive the brand more positively by activating schemas associated with elegance, refinement, and exclusivity.


The Silent Seller

Music is a carefully curated element of the retail environment, designed to subtly yet significantly influence consumer behavior. Understanding and leveraging these psychological influences can be a powerful tool for businesses seeking to increase customer satisfaction, spending, and loyalty.

Araya Solutions specializes in strategically utilizing music to create immersive and engaging experiences for our clients. Together, let’s create a harmonious customer experience that leaves a lasting impression! Email us at [email protected] to learn more about our solutions.



  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270894384_Music_Mood_and_Marketing
  • https://www.simplypsychology.org/what-is-emotional-contagion.html
  • https://psychology.tips/dual-process-theory/
  • https://louis.pressbooks.pub/intropsychology/chapter/classical-conditioning/
  • https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/memory/what-is-mood-congruent-memory-what-can-it-teach-us/
  • https://www.simplypsychology.org/what-is-a-schema.html

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We are a digital transformation company with a focus on helping our customers achieve growth across their businesses online and in retail stores.

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Digital Transformation lies at the heart of any organization wishing to connect with their customers and create meaningful connections. With so much noise and options now available to the ever demanding customer, brands are finding new and innovative ways to transform the customer journey and experience. Let us help you find the apt solution for your environment.

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