In-store music and aroma influences on shopper behaviour and satisfaction

Quick research facts

The arousal induced by music and aroma results in increased pleasure levels which in turn positively influence shopper behaviors, including time and money spend, approach behavior, and satisfaction with the shopping experience. The combination of aroma presence and loud music resulted in a significantly higher level of reported pleasure compared to other conditions.

In-store music and aroma influences on shopper behavior and satisfaction

ABSTRACT

Retail markets are increasingly competitive and retailers continuously look to differentiate their retail offering. One way to differentiate is by providing a pleasant and exciting shopping ambience. This paper experimentally tests the effects of music (volume high or low) and aroma (vanilla scent present/absent) on young fashion shoppers in a real retail setting. Results show that volume of music and the presence of a vanilla aroma both have a significant impact on shoppers’ emotions and satisfaction levels.

Additional analysis reveals that the arousal induced by music and aroma results in increased pleasure levels, which in turn positively influences shopper behaviors, including time and money spend, approach behavior, and satisfaction with the shopping experience. Direct effects of arousal on behaviors as well as an interaction effect between music and aroma on pleasure and time spent in the store are also present. The paper contributes to the better understanding of shoppers’ emotions and shopper behaviors in response to in-store atmospherics and offers retailers practical insights into how to create competitive advantage by customizing the atmosphere in their stores.

RESULTS

The main goal of this study was to investigate how music (volume) and aroma (presence) affect shopper emotional states and subsequently influence real shopper behaviors in a real retail setting. 

This study showed that the arousal induced by music and aroma results in increased pleasure levels, which in turn positively influence shopper behaviors, including time and money spend, approach behavior, and satisfaction with the shopping experience.

The results in addition revealed a positive direct congruency effect on time spent in the store, independent of pleasure. Apparently having the right mix of music and aroma not only enhances pleasure but also makes customers stay extra long in the store independent from the level of arousal and pleasure, thereby further increasing the positive effects of having the proper mix of atmospheric factors.

IMPLICATIONS/LEARNINGS

How to conduct similar music research for your brand

STEP 1

HYPOTHESES 

a) Effects on emotional states

H1. The presence of high volume music will have a positive effect on customers’ levels of (a) arousal and (b) pleasure.

H2. The presence of a vanilla aroma will have a positive effect on customers’ levels of (a) arousal and (b) pleasure.

b) Effects on shopper behaviors

H3. The presence of high volume music will have a positive effect on (a) customers’ approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) customers’ overall satisfaction with their shopping experience.

H4. The presence of a vanilla aroma will have a positive effect on (a) customers’ approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) customers’ overall satisfaction with their shopping experience

c) Emotions as mediators

H5. Customers’ levels of pleasure will have a significant and positive effect on (a) their approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) their overall satisfaction with the shopping experience.

H6. Customers’ levels of arousal will have a significant and positive effect on (a) their approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) their overall satisfaction with the shopping experience.

H7. Customers’ emotional states (levels of pleasure and arousal) will act as mediators for the effects of the presence of high volume music on (a) approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) overall satisfaction with the shopping experience.

H8. Customers’ emotional states (levels of pleasure and arousal) will act as mediators for the effects of the presence of aroma on (a) approach behaviors, (b) time spent in store, (c) money spent in store and (d) overall satisfaction with the shopping experience.

  • A 2 × 2 field experiment 
  • One local fashion retailer in the prime shopping districts in a major metropolitan area in Australia with target group between 14 to 25 year old female shopper.
  • Respondents 18+ ( for ethical reasons).
  • 12 days data collection spread over 4 weeks.
  • The music was from a playlist that the store already used as part of their atmospheric control. This music was an upbeat, dance music compilation played on repeat over the three hours of the data collection period at either a high volume (foreground music) or a low volume (background music).
  • Aroma vanilla scent was used as it is perceived as a more feminine smell. 
  • Data  was collected via store exit surveys. 

STEP 2

METHODOLOGY

STEP 3

Survey/
Measurement

Store exit survey in four major sections: 

  1. Assessing the emotional state while in the store (Kaltcheva and Weitz, 2006 & Mehrabian and Russell, 1974)
  2. Measuring the customer’s overall satisfaction with the shopping experience (Mattila and Wirtz’s, 2001 & Westbrook and Oliver, 1981).
  3. Measuring approach-avoidance constructs (Tai and Fung, 1997 & Mehrabi and Russell, 1974)
  4. Measuring time in store and money spent in store.
  5. Measuring perceived music volume: How loud they thought the music was from ‘very soft’ (1) to ‘very loud’ (7).
  6. Measuring perceived music  aroma: What aroma they could smell in the store out of three choices (cinnamon, vanilla and no specific aroma.
  7. Measuring covariates and socio-demographics including whether the customers were shopping alone or in a group, time since the respondent last visited the store, and age of the customer.