Effects of music in service environments:
a field study

Quick research facts

Musical preference influenced both the amount of time and money shoppers spent in the store, although musical tempo and volume had no observable effects.

Effects of music in service environments: a field study

ABSTRACT

The findings of a controlled field study examining the effects of background music on shopping behavior in a supermarket is examined. It is found that musical preference influenced both the amount of time and money shoppers spent in the store, although musical tempo and volume had no observable effects.

RESULTS

For the differences in shopping time and purchase amount  indicates no differences among the background music factor-levels for either time or money spent.  Therefore, H2, because of its negative wording, is supported, but H1, H3 and H4 are not.

The tempo and volume of the background music did not influence the shopping time or expenditures of shoppers. Of the control variables (covariates), only family size contributed significantly and then only for the amount of money shoppers spent.

H5 and H6 propose that shopping time and purchase amount respectively are influenced by shoppers’ preference For the background music. for differences in shopping time and purchase amount indicate that preference for the background music did influence behavior. It would appear that musical preference can have a positive influence on the amount of time and money shoppers spend in service environments.

IMPLICATIONS/LEARNINGS

How to conduct similar music research for your brand

STEP 1

HYPOTHESES 

H1:The time shoppers spend in a service environment will be reduced by loud music (Smith and Curnow, 1966).

H2:The amount of money shoppers spend in a service environment will be unaffected by loud music (Smith and Curnow, 1966).

H3:The tempo of background music will affect the total shopping time of shoppers (Milliman, 1982).

H4:The tempo of background music will affect the amount of money spent by shoppers (Milliman, 1982).

H5:Preference for the background music will affect the amount of time shoppers spend in the service environment.

H6:Preference for the background music will affect the amount of money shoppers spend in the service environment.

 
  • The surveyed sample represents a diverse group of 140 adults from a metropolitan area in Southeastern USA.
  • Data were collected from the stream of shoppers entering the supermarket between the hours of 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, over a three-week period at a single location.
  • Complete data were obtained from 140 shoppers.
  • Prior to entering the selling area of the service environment shoppers were asked to participate in a study conducted as part of a university project. Potential participants were offered a five dollar gift certificate in return for their participation.
  • While attending to his or her shopping task, each participant was subjected to one of seven different musical factor level combinations: slow-tempo/low-volume, slow-tempo/loud-volume, fast-tempo/low-volume, fast- tempo/loud-volume, business background music/low-volume, business background music/loud-volume, or a no-music control level. The background music used in the study began playing before the beginning of data collection and continued to play until the last participant had departed.
  • Low-tempo (60-65 or fewer BPM), fast-tempo (90 or more BPM). A business background music condition (mean = 104) was included so that the supermarket could assess the effects of its normal musical programming on shopping behavior.
  • The volume levels of the background music used in this study were subject to restrictions set by the supermarket manager. The supermarket manager subjectively selected two volumes (soft and loud) which he felt would be the minimum and maximum volume levels acceptable to customers. To ensure consistency, a decibel meter was used to set sound levels prior to each data collection session.

STEP 2

METHODOLOGY

STEP 3

Survey/
Measurement

Survey  1: Prior to entering the service environment
  • Antecedent mood state
  • Perceived time pressure
  • Demographic characteristics
  • Actual shopping time
    Clocking time.
  • Purchase amount
    Checking receipt.

Survey  2: Post service environment visit 
  • Musical preference
    The degree to which the customer iked or preferred the background music present during the shopping experience. nine statements with seven-point Likert-type response formats 7 = extremely accurate and 1 = extremely inaccurate.
    a) I liked the music being played in this supermarket.
    b) I found the background music to be pleasing.
    c) I would like to listen to this music again.
    d) I wish the supermarket would play this music whenever I shop.
    e) Hearing the background music made shopping more fun. 
    f) Other people would enjoy hearing this music while they shop.
    g) I found the background music to be annoying. 
    h) The music did not improve my attitude toward this supermarket.
    i) I would not like to hear this background music again the next time I shop for groceries.

  • Extraneous influences
    Time pressure Five-point Likert-type response 1 = very inaccurate and 5 = very accurate.
    a)I must rush if I am to complete my shopping trip on time.
    b) I feel pressured to complete my shopping quickly.
    c) I do not have enough time to shop today.
    d) I must hurry to complete my my shopping on time.
    e) I can shop at my leisure today.
    f) I have as much time as I need to complete my shopping. 
    g) There are other things I need to be doing right now.

    Antecedent mood state
    Watson et al. (1988). The PANAS scales consist of 20 adjectives with a five-point response format 1 = very slightly or not at all and 5 = extremely, measuring two distinct dimensions of mood: positive affect and negative affect. 
    10 negative adjectives: afraid, ashamed, distressed, jittery, scared, irritable, hostile, upset, nervous and guilty. 
    10 positive adjectives:
    excited, inspired, strong, enthusiastic, alert, interested, active, proud, attentive & determined.