Music in stores: more influential than you think

I popped into a few stores in my neighborhood last week and noticed something I don’t always note as prominently — the sounds.  Perhaps because I was shopping alone this stood out to me more than usual, but above all else (including the service, visual displays, and promotions) I was struck by the music playing, and the overall mood it cast as I shopped.


In the matter of 45 minutes total, I made quick stops into four stores:

Stop 1: LOFT.  I had to return some shoes I purchased online that were slightly too big so this was more of a quick errand than anything.  But the music playing in the store was upbeat, fun, summery and actually led me to stick around and do a loop through the store and even try on a few things before I left.  It wasn’t necessarily musical artists I readily identified, but the overall tone/feeling/vibe instilled was a happy one. Kept me captive for a bit longer.

Stop 2: Banana Republic.  Similarly, I went in the store to return a shirt I bought last week. While standing in line for the register, I found myself tapping my feet to the rhythm, which was similar to LOFT in tempo and feeling.  No particular song stuck with me, just an overall summery and happy tone that gave me a positive feeling about the store environment.

Stop 3: New neighborhood boutique – Ruby and Jenna.  It was my first time setting foot in the store since it just opened within the past two weeks, and I thought it was quite cute.  This boutique chain has a few locations throughout Long Island, Manhattan, Connecticut and New Jersey that I had heard of, so I was excited to see what it was all about. The product itself was a bit young/revealing “going out” clothing that didn’t necessarily appeal to me, but I did appreciate the happy feeling, feminine accents, and small boutique environment.  And, of course, I mentally noted that Katy Perry “Firework” was blaring as I made my round through the store. Again, peppy and fun music to compliment the environment.  The music influenced my overall perception – and I’ll probably make this a regular stop on my rotation with the hopes of finding some unique pieces from time to time, perhaps accessories more so than clothing.

Step 4: Another neighborhood boutique – Tango. Although I think Tango has the most sophisticated merchandise/best designer selection in the neighborhood, I couldn’t get into the shopping mood, (this often happens here).  In today’s case, I put my finger on why – I determined that largely was due to the lack of music.  When I first set foot in the store, I could hardly hear anything coming from the speakers and it actually felt a bit eerie.  Major letdown from my previous 3 stops.  Instead, I just smelled a weird odor!  Funny how needing some type of stimulation, one of my senses seemed to compensate for another!  The lack of energy in the store led this to be a very quick stop and a general uninspired feeling.

In my prior neighborhood shopping experiences, I didn’t note the music as vividly as I did on this past shopping outing, but will be curious to return to these establishments in the future and see if my most recent perceptions hold over time.


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