The instant you walk through the doors of a supermarket, you are surrounded by bright lights, products, offers, signs and the smell of the bakery department.

We are all very aware of the supermarket trick of piping the smell of lovely fresh bread towards the entrance of the shop, but this is one of many ways of appealing to the customer and encouraging them to spend more on their visit. In this tough economic climate retailers are employing techniques to direct us toward making bigger purchasing decisions on our weekly shopping visits.

One of the biggest challenges in the supermarket is to engage us a little more whilst we wander past aisles of fresh fruit or tins of beans. After all, shopping for groceries in big supermarkets isn’t exactly the most taxing activities that we do in our daily lives. As such, we become more susceptible to the little tricks of the trade and certain parts of this subtle retail strategy go straight to our subconscious.

supermarket

Research shows that the less a person has to actually think about, the more their subconscious mind becomes suggestible to other influences.

Hear that music?

It is well documented that slow and calming music makes people spend more time browsing and subsequently spend more money. Luckily, we are now well beyond the years of annoying Musak & elevator music that used to be associated with filling the audio space in public areas. Retailers now have music specifically profiled to suit their brand image.

Trendy fashion brands are particularly aware of these trends because if they played the wrong kind of music then their brand image would seem out of date very quickly.

But what about supermarkets?

There is a case here for using generic music as it complements the rather ‘none taxing’ environment where it is played. You want the music to ‘disappear’ encouraging a feeling of calm, but not grabbing the attention of the listeners. This is one of the few places where a generic playlist of music can fit the background atmosphere.

Of course the overall ‘atmosphere’ is a small part of the supermarket shopping experience, but what is significant is the place where products are bought. In some cases this ‘atmosphere’ is more influential than what you actually went into buy. You may not necessarily think that a supermarket has an atmosphere but it’s certainly part of the overall shopping experience that can be enhanced with the right background music.

fruit

But why play music at all in a supermarket?

There is a famous study that found that a 34% increase in time spent in a supermarket when background music was played with a corresponding increase in sales. (*Millman 1982)

Playing background music is thought to improve the image of a store and make both customers and employees happier.

70% of customers surveyed said they actually preferred shopping in stores that played music, and 63% said they probably purchased more as a result. The impression was that the supermarket cared more about its customer when it played music.