What does your brand sound like?

What does your brand sound like?

What does your brand sound like?


This paper examines the impact of the congruence between the background music and the brand image on the customer behavior in retail store. The thesis’s hypotheses are built after the famous S-O-R-model that unveils if congruence background music affects the customers’ emotions, brand image and response. The aim of the study is mainly to answer if the congruent background music stimuli in the retail environment will affect the customer’s emotions and if it will increase spending time and money. The congruent background music has been selected through two pre-study designs based on consumers’ brand image. A quantitative study has been conducted where triangulation was applied in a real store environment, where in total 201 surveys was collected for the main study. 601 customers were observed and real sales data was obtained. The results show that congruent background music increases the average sale and has a positive effect on the brand image and customer satisfaction. The thesis aims to contribute knowledge to further academic research on the subject to perform experiments in a real retail environment, teach retailers how to work with congruent background music in stores and lastly enlighten consumers about the daily influential stimuli they are faced with in-store.

Study: What does your brand sound like? A quantitative study of matching background music in consumer durables.

By: Gabriella Johansson & Jasmine Moradi

Keywords: background music, congruence, brand image, store atmosphere and in-store marketing.

ABBA, “Thank you for the music”, written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus in 1977:
….”So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we? So I say thank you for the music…..”

1. Introduction

The music must fit the situation in which it is to be used; the wrong music can produce effects that totally neglect the objective of the exercise” (Grayston, 1974: 38)

In a time where the brand has become the company’s most important means of competition, increases the importance of positioning themselves in the customers’ consciousness rather than on the market (Lusensky, 2010). Companies have always used marketing to reach out to customers and arouse their attention. Today’s marketing is more state of mind focused, where it is about creating experiences rather than focusing on the physical product or service. Marketing that does not appeal to consumers on a deeper level get it difficult to capture their attention (Krishna, 2012). The store environment is an important attribute in order to be able to satisfy consumers and by providing a pleasant shopping experience, brands can gain market share from competitors (Baker et al., 1992; Bitner, 1992). An important element of the store environment consists of music (Baker et al., 1992; Grewal et al., 2003). Through the use of music, enterprises can more easily create emotional ties to their customers and through a strategic effort arouse desired brand associations within them (Lusensky, 2010). If you ever watched a horror movie without sound, you know that this is far from being equally scary as when the sound is on. Sound, and above all music, has a unique power that speaks to human emotions and put them in a different state of mind (Lusensky, 2010).

Most experimental studies have been conducted in the subject music and how it affects consumers, with different methods and results. Regardless if the studies were carried out in real retail environments (Andersson et al., 2012; North, Hargreaves and McKendricks, 1999; Smith and Curnow, 1966; Yalch & Spangenberg, 1993) or in a laboratory environment (Kellaris & Kent, 1993; Turley & Milliman, 2000), it shows that music has an influence on customer behavior. Garlin and Owen (2006) discovery that consumers prefer background music in front of no music, and that it has a positive effect, especially when consumers recognize and like the music. Also, Andersson et al’s, (2012) study shows that consumers spend eight minutes longer time in the store when background music is played, than when no music is played. Spent time in the shop also leads to increased sales (Andersson et al., 2012; Milliman, 1982), which suggests that music is an important part in strategically building up its brand. For marketers, it becomes thus important to ask themselves the question “How does my brand sound like?” (Lusensky, 2010).

One reason why customers visit stores is because they are seeking a stimulating experience and new, innovative products (Groeppel-Klein et al., 1999). Aaker (2002) argues, however, that many businesses continue speaking to their customers in the store environment traditionally. Today, the majority of stores in the consumer durables play music1, but the question is whether they really know how and what music that should be played?

Milliman (1982) examined how music with high and respectively low tempo, affects customers spent time in the store and what it has for impact on sales. Herrington and Capella (1996) also investigated the effects of time spent and sales, but then customers were exposed to differences in both the volume and tempo of the music. Smith and Curnow (1966) studied how sales are influenced by the music depending on customer preferences regarding the volume and Kellaris and Kent (1992) compared the customers’ actual and perceived time duration, depending on whether the music was played in major scale or minor scale. Yalch and Spangenberg (1990) investigated how background and foreground music in a mall can affect customer emotions and Dubé et al. (1995) tested the music’s influence on customers’ approach to the staff. Gorn (1982) examined how, through music, you can get customers to unconsciously choose a particular product, and concluded that attractive music can be decisive for consumer’s brand of choice. Beverland et al. (2006) examined qualitative the importance of music for the fit to the brand, and how the fit differs between customers depending on previously stored information. North, Hargreaves and McKendricks (1999) study tested the effect of background music on customer’s behavior, where they define that the background music is considered as congruent to a product, if a logic foundation or symbolic information is associated with the product being sold. Their results showed that, substantially more French wines were sold when French music was played, while substantially more German wines were sold when German music was played. This is a selection of previous studies conducted within music that provides a comprehensive picture of the context that the background music within retail has been tested in.

Despite that, most studies have been conducted within the area of music, can the methods sometimes be discussed and that some of the older studies carried out, can be criticized for giving a too simple view of the effect (Nordfält, 2011), hence there is still interest in doing more studies within the field. We consider that there is a gap in previous research with regard on matching background music’s effect on sales, brand image and consumer’s behavior within consumer durables. To merely use the older studies, to be able to answer questions about how and why matching and respectively non-matching background music affect sales, brand image and consumer’s behavior, is in the current situation problematic. By finding the answer to this question, consumer durables can receive guidance on how to make use of the right background music to influence their customers and their behavior and thereby increase sales and profits.

In the current situation, it is difficult, ensuring the music’s impact on consumers in consumer durables, despite several previous studies. These studies within the subject will be forming the basis for our thesis and our hypothesis formulations, to try to establish matching background music’s influence on the customer in consumer durables.

“How does matching background music affect customers’ emotions, brand image, and reaction, and does it lead to an increase in sales of consumer durables?”

The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to an enhanced understanding of congruent background music in the category of consumer durables. This has been done through examining what impact it has on sales, if it affects the brand image and how the result can be explained by consumers’ cognitions and emotions.

2. Theoretical framework and hypotheses generation

A model that dominates the research within the store atmosphere is Donovan and Rossiter’s (1982) further developed model, of Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) classic S-R model (Bitner, 1992; Krishna, 2012; Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000). The original model is based on environmental psychology, where humans are exposed to external stimuli in different physical atmospheres (S), which lead to an effect on the behavior, in the form of approach-avoidance (R). By only focusing on the stimuli and responses, it will be difficult to determine what really affects the response, upon which a mediator in the form of human emotions (O) was added (Houston & Rothschild, 1978). Donovan and Rossiter (1982) developed this to fit in a retail context, to be able to measure the store atmospheric affect on consumers’ behavior in store. Early variants of the S-O-R models, is based on the assumption that stimuli act on inactive and unprepared organisms (Eysenck & Kean, 2000). This is criticized by modern researchers, who think that the organisms are active in the form of that the humans’ past experience affects both the information management and the information they search for and received (Peck and Childers, 2006).

In order for, marketers to measure the emotional reactions such as the S-O-R model demonstrates, Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance-paradigm (PAD) is used, to be able to find out the clues in a retail environment that influences human emotional responses (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982). Pleasure, is an emotional response that measures the extent to which the human perceive the surroundings as satisfactory and hopeful. Arousal, affects the degree to which the surroundings stimulates human. Dominance, is about the control the humans perceive themselves to possess against the environment (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974). Since the dominant dimension according to studies cannot be considered to be applicable in all situations, it has been removed from the model (Pratt & Russell, 1980). Mehrabian and Russell (1974) argue that all response in an environment can be considered to lead to an approach-avoidance behaviour.

When Donovan and Rossiter (1982) applied Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) model in the retail environment, they found that solely pleasure had an affect on the customer’s approach- avoidance behavior, which is supported by Andersson et al. (2012). The researchers’ results confirmed that, pleasure predicted consumer behavior, when it came to spending a longer

time in the store and an increase in unplanned purchases (approach), while arousal in unpleasant retail environments, decreased time spent and money (avoidance) (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982).

Mehrabian and Russell (1974) discuss that arousal interacts with pleasure and Donovan and Rossiter (1982) look at whether the environment is satisfactory or not, and came to the conclusion that arousal has an impact on the approach-avoidance behavior. Arousal may increase the sense of satisfaction, as well as a negative experience of the atmosphere can lead to greater arousal, which allows the negative feeling reinforced (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982). Demoulin (2011) supports the view, that high level of arousal has an adverse affect on pleasure, which in turn affects the assessment of the environment and the service quality. Previous studies state that, the customer reacts to the store environment by being positive and approaching it by spending more time in the store, or taking a clear stand against it. (Bitner, 1992; Donovan & Rossiter, 1982; Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000).

Despite that the S-O-R-model has been applied in a number of studies, several scientists have criticized Donovan and Rossiters (1982) implementation by discussing that the behavior was based on customers’ perceived feelings, as a reaction to the behavior, instead of the actual behavior. The criticism highlights, that the customer’s mood may affect whether they feel exhilarated or satisfactory, where feelings not solely need to be a response to stimuli (Fiore et al., 2000; Laaksonen, 2010; Solomon, 2009; Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000). As both the S-O- R-model and the PAD dimensions, has widely been applied in marketing and consumer behavior studies (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974; Donovan & Rossiter, 1982; Russell & Pratt, 1980), we have also chosen to build our thesis and hypothesis formulations based on this starting point.

In-store music Mehrabian & Russell-the S-O-R-model

2.2.1 The music’s physiological and psychological aspects

Music consists mainly of three dimensions: a physical dimension (volume, tempo, rhythm and pitch), an emotional dimension, and a defined dimension (what the consumer likes about the music) (Mattila and Wirtz, 2001). Different genres, styles and sound, are charged with different effects and meanings (ibid), just as different tempos affect the consumer’s emotions (Hultén et al. 2011). Important to point out that, music affects consumers differently. Several researchers are discussing that the music does not have a direct effect on consumer’s behaviour. Instead, they argue that, music solely in conjunction with other factors contributes in creating a background atmosphere. Based on this background is then assessed the store, where a more appreciated background music, consequently leads to a more appreciated store experience (Morin, Dubé & Chebat, 2007). On the other hand, music has the ability to affect people’s emotional states and engagement (Lusensky, 2010).

2.2.2 Music stimuli and music association

A “marketing stimuli”, contains and communicates information about the brand, where the atmosphere can be described as different stimuli that generate emotions, which affect the consumer’s behavior (Hoyer, MacInnis & Pieters, 2012). Parts of this information is then linked to associative network in the brain, that is linked to an object or a person. Through various stimuli, companies can enable these associative networks to get the customer to easily remember the emotions by putting them in the same frame of mind, as when they came into contact with the data (ibid). PAD (Mehrabian & Russells, 1974) states how retail environments can affect the purchase behavior by conveying emotional states. Music is a stimulus that, in combination with residual stimuli creates unique store atmospheres (Bruner, 1990). Matching stimuli can lead to higher evaluations of the store environment, more positive behavioral reactions, and higher satisfaction levels (Mattila & Wirtz 2001). A way to affect the store environment and thereby, be able to influence customer behavior is to use background music (Andersson et al., 2012). Milliman’s (1982) study shows that stimuli of popular songs improve pleasure, while unpopular music decreases. The same study stated that slow background music affects customer’s behavior to move slower in the store, unlike when fast music or no music was played, which resulted in that slow music stimuli reduces customers’ arousal (Milliman, 1982). Andersson et al. (2012) on the other hand, found that music has no impact on either pleasure or arousal.

Peck and Childers (2006) state that, the client interprets new information in relation to our already existing knowledge, memories and experiences and all this affects our experience and how we make decisions when we choose a product. The result, they came up with points out that, companies working with drawing attention to the products’ sensory benefits, can strengthen the product’s identity and value added (ibid).

3. Brand psychology

The concept of brand, has been defined by Kotler and Armstrong (2005) as a name, term, symbol, or design, or a mix of these and as a key to creating relationships with customers where their perceptions and feelings attached to its achievements (Kotler, Parment & Armstrong, 2013). In explaining a customer’s associations with a brand, one should have an understanding of the concept of brand identity. Kapferer (2004:96) defines brand identity as “being your true self” – the image and perception that a company have about themselves. The brand’s identity is at the core of how a brand designs all their communications to portray themselves in a certain way in relation to the outside world, (Burmann et al., 2009) and the strongest differentiation from competing brands (Ghodeswar, 2008). Kapferer (2008) emphasizes this by discussing that differentiation of a brand means that, giving it a unique character that makes it different from other brands. The brand identity is the vision and the values of the brand are, what they stand for and what drives the brand forward (ibid).

According to Keller et al. (2008) the brand image is determined by the associations’ consumers’ receive, when they see or hear the brand’s name. How strong these associations are, is dependent on the brand’s marketing efforts. The concept of brand image has been defined by Grönroos (2009), as the image of a product or service, which the customers’ or other stakeholders, have in their perceptions. The brand is the image or perception, that is created in the consumer’s consciousness, based on the signals and messages that the company

communicates (Apéria, 2001) in its brand identity, in the form of the name, logo, products, services, advertising, etc. (Kapferer, 2004).

Overall, equivalent to a brand image are all the positive and negative impressions that customer receives by coming into contact with the brand, such as in a retail environment (Kapferer, 1997; Nandan, 2005). Kapferer (2008:10) discusses that mental and emotional associations are based on how brands influence customers, since a brand’s value lies in its ability to create “assets in the mind and heart of customers”. Association strength is determined partly by how relevant the presented information is and partly how continuous and consistent information is presented over time (Keller et al., 2008). All companies strive to that the brand image should match the brand identity (Bengtsson & Östberg, 2011).

Kotler et al. (2005) and Lusensky (2010) state that, organizations periodically should measure their value and listen by the market. This shall be done to see that the customer still associate the brand, with the associations the organization wants it to be associated with. However, Doyle points out (2002) that, it’s difficult to value and find the assets contributing to the brand’s value. The author argues that, it is complicated to evaluate brand associations, since it is a long-term effort that generates growth far in the future. For retail brands, background music is an important brand attribute, which often reflects the core image.

This is particularly important for consumers without previous expectations or experiences of the brand, because the music is an important clue as to the brand’s position and target market. Music can also reinforce previous perceptions of the brand and thereby, strengthen the relationship between consumer and brand (Beverland et al., 2006). The background music is a tool to increase sales and improve the attitude towards a store (Chebat, Chebat & Vaillant, 2001).

Lusensky (2010:15) states, “many companies have a visual identity, but what does our brand really sound like?” Music identity defines how brands sound like, and is activated by strategic tools, such as audio and music software, to be used as the brand’s contact surface in stores, on the website and in commercials, towards customers. Hence, by this way companies can also create recognition, even when the consumer’ does not see the brand. To create, a functioning music identity, it is all about achieving clarity and consistency, so that consumers recognize the brand, regardless of the context in which they encounter it (ibid).

A study of North (2008) shows that, companies with music that fits the brand identity are 96 percent more likely to be remembered, compared with companies without music or with music that does not fit the brand. Lusensky (2010) discusses that there are complications and specific problems bound to, generating the musical identity, since the world of music is a culture with its own values and policies. Another issue is the subjective thinking and the subjective taste, since music is something very personal (ibid). What music identity that fits a specific company, depends on in which segment it acts and the type of product or service being sold. A study carried out in Sweden, where the respondents had to answer how important it is that the music being played in the store and restaurant, match the brand’s

personality, showed that 36 percent and respectively 45 percent, believe it is important or very important (Lusensky, 2011). Lusensky (2010) states that it is important to think long term in the process of the brand building of a music identity.

Just like a personality description, can brands be portrayed as youthful, fun and intelligent (Aaker, 1996), in which consumers choose brands to identify their lifestyles, interests, values and prosperity to create a social identity, how I want to be identified with a group and personal identification, how I choose to distance myself from others (Doyle, 2002). Frost and O’Cass (2002) discusses that the brand personality, is most commonly used and most important in the clothing industry, where a clothing brand shows which personality of the wearer of the clothes have, as well as helping them to express their status in relationship to others and themself. Similarly, musical taste reveals the humans’, “correct” self picture and acts as a social marker to tell others, who they are, which lifestyle and what values they have (Rentfrow & Gosling, 2007). This statement is also confirmed in a study by North (2008), which showed a strong correlation between musical taste and personality type. Aaker (1997) highlights the brand personality along five dimensions, which she terms “The Big Five” and they consist of sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Every dimension in the model is further divided into different attributes/adjectives that function as a tool to identify the brand personality (Aaker, 1997), (see Appendix 20).

By brands creating a brand personality, based on transferring human personality characters to their brand, they manage to primarily motivate the target group who seek out products that comply with the selected personality characters (Aaker, 1997). Aaker (1997) exemplifies this with that, if a customer wants to feel tough, he will seek out and purchase items from a brand that is characterized by toughness. Important to point out that, personality traits of a brand, are created in an interaction between what the brand choose to communicate, using what consumers think and feel about the brand.

Within marketing, the marketing mix 4P’s, is frequently mentioned (McCarthy, 1960), which is, how a company can position itself in the market by price, product, place, and promotion. Lusensky (2010) argues, however, that this traditional model should be complemented with the 4E’s: emotions, experiences, engagement, and exclusivity, to be able to include music in the brand strategy. In a time, where the brand has become the company’s most significant competitive tool, it becomes particularly important to position themselves in the customers’ mind, rather than on the market. The 4E’s enables brands to establish emotional ties with consumers, and break through the noise that is around in the surrounding, to create an experience around the brand itself (Kotler, 1973-1974). For physical stores, it is particularly important to invest in the experience, where the music is important for its connection with the memory, which helps build loyalty and create recognition (Arnold et al., 2005). The music also has a part in being able to differentiate itself from the competition. Lusensky (2010) states that, by creating a musical identity for a brand, it will send a unified communication to consumers. The music is becoming an increasingly important tool in order to enhance the experience, where the customer is so close to the purchase as possible. The right choice of music affects the customer to stay longer (Andersson et al., 2012; Beverland et al., 2006) and helps the company to create desired associations. The music’s strong connection to our memory, contributes significantly to building loyalty and creating recognition (Lusensky, 2010).

Katz (1960) developed the theory of the function of the attitudes, “The Functional Theory of Attitudes”, which explains how human attitudes affect behaviour. Attitudes exist for the human’s search of a meaning. The human’s need to express values or the sense of understanding, is formed according to the person’s own needs and motives, therefore, why two people may have the same attitude towards something, even though the reasons differ (Solomon et al., 2006). Solomon et al. (2006) argue, that humans do not shape an attitude towards a product according to its functional benefits, but rather on the basis of what the product says about the customer as a person.

Studies show that, consumers’ attitude and perception of the store’s background music can affect customers’ overall perception, gradation of attention and information processing in the store environment (Chebat, Gelinas-Chebat & Filiatrault, 1993; Chebat et al., 2001). And according to North, Hargreaves and McKendricks (1999), the attitude to the music can affect the primary election of certain products, by that music stimulates the customer to remember previously stored information. This is supported by Rossiter, Percy and Donovan (1991), which discusses that music stimulates emotions, that can affect the attitude, which in turn, is likely to affect the purchase behavior. Several researchers highlight that the consumer’s emotions and perception, which are generated by the effects of the background music, creates and increases the customer’s attitude to the store and its components (Dubé & Morin, 2001; Gorn, 1982; Grewal et al., 2003).

Keller (1993) defines congruence, as to what extent an association share content and meaning with another association. The closer the similarities are, occurs congruence, the farther the similarities are, occurs incongruent. When consumers, for example, come in contact with new information of a brand, they will classify the information, as congruent with existing associations (ibid). Heckler and Childers (1992) discusses about the consumer’s expectation, where they state, that an association’s level of expectation can be linked to consumer’s prior knowledge and emotions surrounding a particular object. An expected association is consistent with the consumer’s prior knowledge and views on a particular object, while an unexpected association refers to information that does not fit into the context (Beverland, 2006; North, Hargreaves & McKendricks, 1999).

North, Hargreaves and McKendricks (1999) study tests the effect of background music on the customer’s behaviour, where they define that, background music is considered congruent with a

product, if a logical basis or a symbolic information is linked to the product sold. The authors use geographical and cultural features of the background music, with products that had a clear geographic and cultural descent. They found that customers’ selection of French and German wines was affected strongly by stereotyped French and German background music, which was played in the wine department, at a supermarket. The results showed that significantly more French wines were sold when French background music was played, while substantially more German wines were sold when German background music was played. These results are consistent with studies about that music can affect the primary selection of certain products, since music stimulates the customer to remember previously stored information, where the German background music, made customers think of Germany, rather than France and vice versa (Gorn, 1982; North, Hargreaves & McKendricks, 1999). 

A similar study was conducted by Areni and Kim (1993), who tested how music with good fit, conveys and triggers the appropriate information, which matches the consumer’s perception of the product sold. The authors applied a study, where they tested music’s fit to purchase behavior by playing classical music and top-40 music, in a wine store. Also in this study it was confirmed, that classical background music, which was considered to be more suitable, increased sales of high-priced wines. These results are supported by MacInnis and Parks (1991) conception, of that persuasion is enhanced when the music fits the context and Yalch and Spangenbergs (1990) results, that classical music is associated with the perception of higher prices.

Guéguen, Jacob & Lamy (2010) examined in their study, the degree of congruence between the music played in the store and the type of products sold, where three manipulations were carried out; love songs and romantic music (congruent state), pop music (the music usually played in a flower shop) and no music (control group) was played. The results show that the average sales, was significantly higher when love songs and romantic background music was played, in compared with the two manipulations. When pop music was played, it did not increase sales, compared to when no music was played (ibid).

The study reinforces that background music in store, has a key role, in strengthening, shaping and transforming the relationship between brand and consumer. Music interacts with other factors in the retail environment, before it affects the customer’s assessment of the store, as a whole. Although that the store is playing the right music, it can be turned out, by other components of the environment or by the staff

For stores to attract new customers, who have no brand knowledge or previous experience of a brand, it is important that the music fits with the brand, because the music signals the brand’s position, image and quality (Beverland et al., 2006). Incongruence can lead to counterproductive thinking about the brand, meaning that consumers compare thoughts about what could have happened, with what they experienced actually happened. This can lead to a deteriorating relationship, between the consumer and the brand. Furthermore, the brand is perceived to have a lower quality and that its authenticity is questioned if the fit is not congruent (ibid).

Machleit and Eroglu (2000) and Yalch and Spangenberg (2000) argue that, certain background music fit for certain stores, and that miss matching can lead to negative results. A failed relationship between atmosphere, staff and process can lead to an annoying experience for the customer. Kristensen, Martensen and Grønholdt (1999) argue, that matching background music enhances the customer’s shopping experience, resulting in satisfaction. Music can reinforce the desired brand personality and help to build a consistent brand image (A, 1996; A, 1997; Beverland et al., 2006).

4. The music’s psychological reactions (cognitions)

Bitner (1992) argues that cognitions are perceptions an individual may receive, depending on previous knowledge, memories and associations. Since the humans are in continuous interaction with the outside world, are their future interpretations and perceptions constantly imprinted, where cognition deals with what individuals know and understand (Araï, 2001; Groome et al., 2010). There are ongoing discussions in the retail industry about, how spatial aspects affect customer behavior. It is about what music that should be played, what colors that influences the customer to buy more, and if a scent machine should be installed in order to encourage a certain behavior (Gustavsson et al., 2014; North Field, 2007). A store atmosphere that has a sober decor, low classical background music and soft lighting, can get a consumer to perceive the price of the product sold more expensive, while when a store atmosphere breathes youth, courage, energy, consumer can perceive the products as cheaper (Kotler, 1973-1974)

Kotler (1973-1974:50) defines the atmosphere as “the air surrounding a sphere”, and implies that, the atmosphere can be described in sensory terms. The atmosphere is divided into a physical part and a perceived part. The physical part is about the room and how it was designed, while the perceived atmosphere affects people’s perception of the whole situation, where also social meetings are included. A room can thus be experienced with sight, hearing, smell and touch.

Kotler (1973-1974) states, that the atmosphere has a great importance for the products sold, and that the store through the atmosphere can give the products an identity. Research has shown that 65-80 percent of consumer decisions are made in the store (Nordfält, 2011), in which store atmosphere certainly has a big impact on the consumer.

Several researchers discuss that the background music in the retail industry is a significant atmosphere variable, in creating the overall store experience, and is used to influence human sensations, partly to affect the atmosphere, of the room, partly to hide unwanted sound (Beverland et al., 2006; Gustavsson et al., 2014). By adding small changes in the environment, such as background music, consumers’ perceived news sensation and satisfaction could increase (Mattila & Wirtz, 2001). Studies have shown, that retailers can, with the help of music in the store atmosphere, influence consumers to spend more time and money in the store, and reduce the perception of time to stand in line, because they feel that the store cares about their customers (Kotler, 1973-1747; Lens, 1975; Bruner, 1990; Bitner 1992; Baker et al., 1992).

Majority studies, shows a link between the customers’ spent time and purchase propensity, when music is played in the store. The time is considered to be an important factor in the retail industry, because there is a strong certainty in the connection between spent time and purchase (Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000). Donovan et al. (1994) find that pleasure affects the consumer behaviour, in terms of that, they spend more time in the store, and that it leads to unplanned purchases. He also found that arousal causes the customer to spend less money, when it was an unpleasant retail environment (ibid). Baker et al. (1992), on the other hand, came to the conclusion that both pleasure and arousal increased the willingness to shop. Studies have been done, showing that the music’s tempo affects customers’ perception of the time, where low tempo leads to that the customer spends more time in the shop (Yorkston, 2010) and that the waiting time is shorter (Yorkston, 2010; Hultén et al., 2011). Furthermore, Milliman (1982) found that slower music was associated with a slower pace of action, which led to an increase in gross sales.

By playing any kind of background music, stores can grab the customer to stay longer, than that no music is played at all (Andersson et al., 2012; Garlin & Owen, 2006; Yalch & Spangenberg, 1990). Studies have moreover been carried out, where the music’s volume shown to have an impact on customers’ spent time and buying behaviour, where higher volume leads to that the customer spends less time in the store (Smith & Curnow, 1966). In addition to that the music affects the customers’ actual time spent in the store, similarly it affects the customer’s perceived time (Yalch & Spangenberg, 1988; 1993). Yalch and Spangenberg (1993) examined how, background music respectively foreground music, affects customer’s buying behaviour. They found that consumers were more familiar with the foreground music, and when this music was played, was the perceived time longer than when the less familiar background music was played. On the contrary, it turned out that the actual time was longer when the foreground music was played. Because familiar music seems to make the customer more observant, they appreciate spending more time in the store, than when exposed to

unfamiliar music (Fontaine & Schwalm, 1979). Whether the customer recognizes the music or not, it seems to affect the actual time, where customers spend more time in the store when the familiar music, than when unfamiliar music played (Gulas & Schewe, 1994; Garlin & Owen, 2006).

Customer preferences for the music, also affects the average purchase and spent time in the store (Herrington & Capella, 1996). Radocy and Boyle (1997) show that consumers are more likely to spend more time and spend more money, if the music being played is considered to be appropriate. Which is in line with Vida et al’s (2007) results, that music with the perceived fit to the store image, has a positive effect on the spent shopping time, which indirectly affect customers’ spending (Andersson et al., 2012; Eroglu et al., 2005; Caldwell & Hibbert, 2002; Milliman, 1986). This statement is furthermore supported by Grayston (1974), which states that the music must fit the situation. The music’s genre moreover has an effect on customers’ perceptions and choices (Bruner, 1990), which can affect the customers’ purchase intent (North & Hargreaves, 1998) and the perceived time (Yalch & Spangenberg, 1990).

5. Discussion & conclusion

In this chapter, we discuss about the thesis’s results and analysis and tie up conclusions about the outcome of the thesis. The design is presented in accordance with the result’s outcome; music’s interplay with consumers’ reactions in the store atmosphere, followed by how background music influences consumer emotions, and ends with how background music evokes associations with the brand image.

The purpose of this study is to contribute on an enhanced understanding of congruent background music in the category of consumer durables. This has been done through examining what impact it has on sales, if it affects the brand image and how the result can be explained by consumers’ cognitions and emotions.

The essay began with a discussion based on that research is limited in the area of how congruence between the background music and brand evoke associations with the consumer, which in turn leads to a reaction. We, therefore, decided in this study to examine, how, based on the brand image, one can produce matching and non-matching background music to see what effects that affect sales, the brand image and consumer behavior. We believe that a lot of what we have presented may be of importance to brands within consumer durables and where the background music, may become an integral part of a brand building. The aim of reaching to the study’s problem:

“How does matching background music affect customers’ emotions, brand image, and reaction, and does it lead to an increase in sales of consumer durables?”

The thesis’s anticipated knowledge grant is to contribute to a greater understanding of how associations linked to background music in consumer durables, can be implemented as an integral part of the brand building to transfer consumers’ associations linked to the brand. The result from our study leads to a number of important conclusions for future practice, both for future research, retailers within consumer durables, music companies that strategically work with implementation of music in the stores, as well as for consumers.

Our study shows that by using the interplay of stimuli in the store atmosphere, where background music is a constituent, it will affect consumers’ emotional state, which leads to a reaction in the form of increased sales. This result is in line with previous research on music in retail (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982; Beverland et al., 2006; Areni & Kim, 1993; North, Hargreaves & McKendrick, 1999) and studies that focus on the congruence between the background music and brand (Alpert & Alpert, 1990; MacInnis & Park, 1991). Matching background music, thus has an impact on stores’ sales within consumer durables.

If we summarize what we have found in our thesis, we can conclude an indirect link to that matching music stimulus in interaction with other store atmospheric variables affects consumers’ reaction in the form of increased sales. The matching background music moreover leads, partly, to an effect on consumers’ emotions and brand image, which may indirectly explain the reaction of the increased sales. Our study also shows that the background music itself does not have a particularly strong effect on the customer. But when it is put in context, the store atmosphere, it affects both the customers’ brand image and their satisfaction, similar to the S-O-R model (Mehrabian & Russel, 1974).

To begin with, our result shows that consumer durables can implement matching background music in interaction with other store atmospheric variables to increase sales, which is consistent with previous studies (Milliman, 1982; Anderson et al., 2012).

Although we did not get any significant difference in sales between the two music manipulations and when no music was played, companies should not exclude the application of background music in the store environment, where the absence of music in the stores is rare and has been shown to have a negative impact on sales in the long term (Wilson, 2003). It is, therefore, more interesting to see how matching background music and non-matching background music affect sales, where our result clearly show that music with the right fit to the brand can lead to an increase in sales (Andersson et al., 2012; Gueguen & Jacob, 2010).

We therefore agree with Lusensky (2010), that companies should strategically produce background music based on the brand image, to be able to, in the store atmosphere arouse desired associations in the customer, and thereby increase sales. It can be fatal to let the store staffs select the music based on own liking, because it does not necessarily fit the brand (Beverland et al., 2006). The same applies to chain stores that developed, central systems, for which music to be played in their stores. This music should definitely be chosen based on congruence with the brand image. Companies should be aware that music is very personal and subjective and, therefore, may differ from person to person (Lusensky, 2010).

It should also be emphasized that our study differs in design from previous research, which leads to a result that does not correspond to some studies, but many results are confirmed by previous research. However, this shows rather on the complexity regarding music and its effects, and provides an additional dimension in understanding what operating with music can lead to and contribute to.

In the analysis of the customers’ perception of time and actually spent time, there were no differences between the two music manipulations and no music. Our research result does not support the assumption that different music genres affect customer perception of time in the shop (North & Hargreaves, 1998). Our result that there are no differences in actual spent time finds no basis in previous research (Garlin & Owen, 2006; Yalch & Spangenberg, 1990). Nor, when we combine the two music manipulation with each other and compare against no music, do we receive a difference, which opposes to Andersson et al’s (2012) result. However, when we twist and turn, it does not seem that matching background music has any impact on customers spent time and time perception. This may be because the music manipulations simply did not differ enough and that customers were equally familiar with both music manipulations, which meant that they could not relate their perception of time to a particular song in one manipulation, and thereby estimate the time difference (Fontaine & Schwalm, 1979).

Our result, however, shows a tendency that suggests that matching background music allows the customer to spend more time in the store, which can be seen as a rapprochement (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982) and moreover indicate the increased sales. On the other hand, showed neither pleasure or arousal have any effect on customers perceived time, which suggests that the music had no impact on customers’ feelings, resulting in lack of reaction. However, it should be made clear that the perceived time is not the same as the actual time and, thus cannot be explained as a rapprochement reaction. The tendency of the actually increased time in the store could therefore be an explanation as to why customers spending more money when matching background music was played, which linked the majority of previous studies showed. The tendency of the actually increased time in the store could thus be an explanation for why customers spend more money when matching background music was played, which a connection several previous studies have shown (Milliman, 1982; 1986; Baker et al., 1992; Herrington & Capella, 1996).

Despite the fact that we have not been able to make any statistically significant tests between the perceived time and the actual time, it is still interesting to look at these differences in real terms as they differ greatly. The reason why we have not been able to test this statistically is due to that the time observations conducted was not linked to the respondents who answered the questionnaires. Previous research showing on the differences between actual and perceived time (Yalch & Spangenberg, 1988) and in our study, there is a clear difference to that the customers think they spend more time in the store (7 minutes 49 seconds), than what they actual do (3 minutes 15 seconds).

A reason to why consumers’ perceived time and actual time differ, may be because consumers did not recognize the music, which can otherwise act as a clue in the sense of time (Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000). It is also very interesting that when no music is played, the consumer perceive that they spend more time than when matching- or non-matching background music is played. However, the consumer actually spends less time in the store when no music is played. Nevertheless, one should not make too much of this, then it is not possible to demonstrate this in a statistically significant way.

Through the thesis, we have applied the 4E’s (Lusensky, 2010) to include background music in a store atmosphere. What we can see is that the matching and non-matching background music does not have any direct effect on consumers’ attitude to the store atmosphere. We interpret this to mean that the two music manipulations failed to break through the noise in the store atmosphere (Lusensky, 2010) and thus not managed to create two different emotional attitudes towards the store atmosphere, neither the price, assortment, the staff nor the store atmosphere. The music does not seem to be the stimuli that solely affect the other store atmospheric variables (Brunér, 1990), which is in line with Kotler (1973 to 1974), who argue

that music is part of the store atmosphere that could affect, for example, the attitude to the price.

For brands to create two different emotional attitudes towards the store atmosphere, we believe it is required that several factors in the store atmosphere are change, and communicate the same associations and background music, which is consistent with Morin, Dubé and Chebat (2007). In our opinion, it may be that when the background music is tested in a real store environment, it does not become activated to directly create an attitude towards the store atmosphere. This may explain why previous studies conducted in laboratory environments (Kellaris & Kent, 1993; Turley & Milliman, 2000) received significant differences when the other store atmospheric variables are conspicuous by their absence. The result may be explained by Eysenck and Kean (2000) who argue that, the stimuli act on inactive and unprepared organisms. The customers had good brand recognition and could have been prepared for most of the store environment they were exposed to, upon which they were not affected by the background music. This goes against recent studies (Peck and Childers, 2006).

As seen in the results, both pleasure and arousal is affected when matching background music is played (Dubé & Morin, 2001), but only pleasure is affected when non-matching background music is played (Donovan & Rossiter, 1982). Here we can thus conclude that the matching background music’s stimuli in interaction with the other store atmospheric variables, makes customers aroused, which the non-matching background music succeeds with. We interpret that the effect of pleasure and arousal may be linked to that, the background music’s associations matched with the remaining associations of the store atmosphere, which put them in a state of mind that increased their feelings (Hoyer, MacInnis & Pieters, 2012).

In the analysis of, how the music and the store atmospheric variables affect customer satisfaction by either matching or non-matching background music, we found that all the variables together effect satisfaction (Mattila and Wirtz, 2001). Since solely the assortment affected the pleasure at matching background music, it suggests that the assortment has the single greatest impact on consumers’ pleasure (Baker et al., 1994). This also happens when non-matching background music is played, which we believe indicates that stores should focus a lot on developing an assortment that enhance customers’ attitude, because it reflects off on pleasure. Through that customer are more satisfied, it is also likely that their willingness to spend more money increases (Baker et al., 1992; Kotler, 1973-1974; Lens, 1975). Despite everything, music does not seem to be crucial for pleasure; it is above all the assortment itself.

We believe this may be due to the assortment consists of physical products that the customer consumes. Even if the customer would be able to feel satisfied just by a nice store atmosphere, can not the same strong sense of satisfaction be procured, if the customer goes

away empty handed from there. How important the store atmosphere may be, it is above all the assortment that affect customer satisfaction. When non-matching background music was played, it also proved that the store atmosphere affects satisfaction. From this, it can be concluded that, when there is no congruence between background music and the brand, other factors become more important in the atmosphere, such as scent and lighting (Kotler, 1973- 1974). If a store has a state of incongruence between background music and the brand, it would thus be able to change the lighting or scent, in order to be able to affect customer satisfaction. Not surprisingly, customers who spend more time in the store are more satisfied, however, the background music does not have any impact on this. We have not been able to show any differences in satisfaction among consumers who spend more time in the store, when matching background music was played. This goes against previous studies (Kristensen, Martensen & Grönholdt, 1999; Donovan & Rossiter, 1982), but can be explained by that the music is turned out by the other components in the environment before it affects the customer’s assessment of the store (Dubé & Morin, 2001). Given that the customers, who spend more time in the store, feel more satisfied, indicates that something happens in the store, that the customers like and therefore choose to stay longer. However, it does not seem that matching background music is crucial for the customer to stay longer, as there was no difference with non-matching background music or no music.

When we analyzed, whether the background music affects customers’ brand image, no differences between matching-, non-matching background music and no music, was identified. When we merged together, no music and background music, our study showed tendencies on that the background music affects customers’ brand image, which is in line with previous research (Chebat, Chebat & Vaillant, 2000). One explanation for why matching background music does not have any effect on the customer’s brand image, could however be explained by that Gant’s customers already have previous expectations and perceptions of the brand (Beverland et al., 2006). This is confirmed by that the brand awareness was very high for the respondents (a mean value of 6.25 out of 7), which may indicate that their image of the brand is not changed, regardless of the music being played, since their image of the brand is already defined.

When we instead looked at how the music in interaction with the four store atmosphere variables affect the brand image, we find support for that the interaction actually affects the consumers’ image of the brand which is consistent with Dubé and Morin’s (2000). Their study show, that the music interacts with other factors in the store environment, before it affects the customer’s assessment of the store, as a whole. Even if the store actually plays matching background music, this can be turned out by the other components of the environment or by the staff (ibid). Lusensky (2010) discusses that by brands operating strategically; they can arouse desired associations within the consumer. This means that when the different music manipulations were played in our study, it should have aroused different associations within

the consumer. One reason to why the associations in the form of brand image, did not differ, may therefore be due to that, the store music’s effects do not occur shielded from other effect factors in the store environment (Beverland et al., 2006). To develop a fit music strategy is a long-term project (Lusensky, 2010), and our study only shows the music’s power, over a short period of time.

Even if we found that only pleasure is affecting consumers’ brand image, it shows nevertheless that the matching background music has an impact on the consumers’ feelings, which previous research also confirms (Yalch & Spangenberg, 2000; Donovan & Rossiter, 1986). When the matching background music is played, the consumer experiences more pleasure, which leads to that the consumer’s image of the brand is reinforced. Through the stimulus in the store atmosphere, including music, customers’ feelings (pleasure) are affected to a rapprochement, in the form of increased sales. If the statement is true, then our result is in line with previous research (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974; Donovan & Rossiter, 1982). One reason why consumers’ pleasure and arousal does not affect the brand image when non- matching background music was played, could be because the music does not have a particularly great impact on the emotional reaction when the fit is poor (MacInnis & Park, 1991). The fit, between background music and the brand, seems to be important in order to be able to influence customers’ emotions, which further suggests that companies should operate within the congruence between background music and their brand to influence customers’ emotions, and hence their behavior. 

6. Implications

One of the most significant results from our study is that, the average sale increases by 31.7%, when matching background music is played, compared to when non-matching background music is played in the store. This has explanations in factors that lie within the manager’s power to effect. The second most significant result showed a positive correlation to that, the store atmospheric variables together contributes to an increased customer satisfaction at matching background music, where the assortment coefficient solely shows affects, that when the attitude to the assortment increases, so does the attitude to the customer satisfaction in the store. 

The result also showed tendencies, that the actual time spent which the customers spent in the store, increased by 1.58%, when matching background music was played compared to when non-matching background music was played. The greatest difference was shown between matching background music and no music, where the actual time spent in the store, increased by 42,24%. At non-matching background music, the time spent the in store increased by 40,03% versus no music.

A first implication is for retailers and music companies, to take control over of the background music played in stores. Our result suggests an implementation of central music systems, where companies, on a regular basis, can operate matching background music under controlled conditions. This is in order to gain knowledge about, what effects certain type of music has at different time and days, on different customer groups. Strategically operation of congruent background music in sores is within the marketing manager’s and store manager’s power, to influence the effect on sales in stores (Gustavsson et al., 2014).

A second implication is for retailers and music companies, to recognize that matching background music is an interaction with the other store variables, to affect customer satisfaction, and to increase pleasure and arousal towards the brand image. Our results supports the introduction of a strategic effort, where the congruence between background music and the brand image will help to create a more positive attitude towards the brand image. The result also supports that brands can affect purchasing behavior with spatial factors. It is about giving the assortment an identity in the store atmosphere where the decor, the music, the lighting and the staff, breathe the same identity to increase customer satisfaction and thus sales (Kotler, 1973-1974).

A third implication is for retailers and music company, that music affects customers’ emotional states and commitment, on a personal and subjective level (Lusensky, 2010), in which it is up to the company to find a musical identity that represents a balance between the brand identity, the brand image and the target audience. We believe that newly established brands should strategically develop their musical identity, based on their brand identity (Beverland et al, 2006). While established brands, where the target group has a certain expectation grounded on the already communicated brand identity, should develop their musical identity based on their brand image. Finally, it is important to point out that companies should be careful with developing music based on the consumers’ taste in music, however, the background music should be appropriate to the target audience, since they choose a clothing brand to identify its identity (Frost & O’Cass, 2002). Our results indicate that, by a clear and strategic target group analysis, evaluate the understanding of how consumer brand associations are linked to background music in consumer durables, and thus find out how music can be implemented as an integral part of building the brand. By transferring consumer associations linked to the brand, companies can affect consumer behavior and drive sales.

A fourth implication is for future research, in which researchers should more focus on performing music experiments in real retail environments, in context with the remaining

patial factors to measure the actual impact. Our result indicates that music is not a stand- alone stimulus that has a direct impact on consumers’ reactions, but interacts well with the other store atmospheric variables. Since the background music speaks to our subconscious mind (Nordfält, 2011), scientists should become more conscious in terms of the interview method, where they should not ask the respondents’ direct questions related to the music being played. To get maximum resolution as possible, we recommend researchers to test music experiments in real store atmospheres, to measure respondents’ actual experience, where the music and the other variables interact with each other (Kotler, 1973-174).

The fifth and final implication is for consumers, which should be alert, for all the stimuli they are exposed to in the hope that they will open their wallets. However, this does not need to solely be negative, as it moreover results in a greater satisfaction for the customer.

7. Survey