How Background Music can Affect Customer Spend in Retail & Hospitality

Research has shown that the type of background music a business chooses to play can influence customer behaviour, and subsequently, their spend. Whether it’s in a shop, pub, bar or beauty salon, the careful implementation of background music is not only essential for enhancing your brand and customer experience, but can also maximising your sales!

Here, we'll discuss a few ways that the type of music you choose to play in your business can contribute to this...


A study conducted by Professor Ronald E. Milliman found that restaurant diners exposed to slow music spent an average of 13.56 minutes longer at the venue than those who were exposed to fast music. The same researcher also studied the effects of different tempos of music on supermarket shoppers, and found that “slow-tempo background music produced a significantly slower pace of in-store traffic flow.” Both of these studies concluded that this slower-paced music also led to significantly higher customer sales: a 40% increase in restaurant drinks sales, and 38% higher gross sales in the supermarket study.

These findings suggest that slow music that relaxes customers and encourages a longer dwell-time will also persuade them to spend more at a venue - something that business owners should consider when selecting background music for their venues.


It’s been suggested that the genre of background music can affect the quality perception of a business and influence customer spend. For example, styles of music such as classical and jazz are perceived to be high-class as they are associated with sophistication and luxury.

When played in businesses such as bars, restaurants and retail stores, these types of music are proven to increase a customer’s willingness to spend more and persuade them to go for finer, more upmarket choices. One study that supports this theory analysed customer spend in a wine store when either Top 40 or classical styles of music were played. After a test period of 2 months, researchers Areni & Kim concluded that customers exposed to classical music had a much higher spend, which was due to their choice of more expensive wines, rather than the quantity that they purchased.


Getting the volume of music right in a business is crucial. In particular, ensuring that your background music isn’t too loud and intrusive could make the difference from a good or bad customer experience.

One consumer study conducted in supermarkets tested how the volume of background music affected customer behaviour and the findings were that, when loud music was played compared to soft, significantly less time was spent in the stores.

If the prediction that loud music puts-off customers is correct, this could lead to a shorter dwell-time and, therefore, lower sales. Whatever industry you’re in, attention should be paid to the volume level of your background music and how your customers react to this.

The important thing for retail and hospitality operators to take away is that the music chosen must be right for your brand and reflect your values and products. No matter what your desired outcome, implementing unsuitable music at your business could be harmful. You must ensure that you are keeping in line with your brand image and choosing music that really fits.

You can read more of our advice on how to select background music for a business on our blog here, or if you’d like to discuss this more with one of our team, call us on 020 3397 7676 and we'll be happy to help!