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Playing music that has a good fit with a company’s brand increased customer well-being and hiked sales for a major restaurant chain, the largest academic study of background music ever conducted shows.
“This is without a doubt the largest field study on the influence of music in restaurants to date, and we’ve analyzed an enormous pool of data,” says Professor Sven-Olov Daunfeldt, who led the study. “When done right, music has a major positive effect on sales, largely stemming from guests purchasing more items such as desserts and sides. Play the wrong music, and you just might find that you’re alienating that very same customer and selling significantly less.”
Most restaurants play music in an attempt to shape their customers’ experience and their venue’s image. However, many do so casually and with little afterthought. Until now, it’s been exceedingly difficult investigate the exact impact of music choice, and find out what works and what doesn’t. Technical constraints have limited the size and scope of studies made on this topic and made comparisons difficult.
Researchers at HUI Research, using Soundtrack Your Brand’s curation model and streaming platform, made the most ambitious study to date in this field of research. Over the course of five months in 2016, across 16 restaurants of a major restaurant chain, the researchers analyzed a pool nearly two million unique transactions.
They compared the sales impact of playing carefully selected choice of music that fit the chain’s brand with playing random popular music, and discovered that the difference in sales was 9.1 percent over the period of the study.
Music that fit the brand made people more likely to buy additional items than if the restaurant played random popular music. Sales of desserts, shakes and smoothies, as an example, rose by more than 15 percent, while sales of sides increased by more than 11 percent.
Playing the wrong music, on the other hand, hurt sales.
“Based on these results, I’d advise anyone who has a restaurant to be very mindful about the choice of music. Unless you think hard about the music you play, you might be better off to refrain from playing background music altogether,” Professor Daunfeldt says.
A separate survey of more than 2,101 restaurant guests, showed the impact of brand-fit music versus random music on emotion and satisfaction after restaurant visits. The results showed that guests’ well-being and satisfaction improved when they had listened to a brand-fit music compared with when they had heard random popular music.
“I’ve always known intuitively that bad background music hurts businesses. And conversely that carefully selected music can increase sales and improve experiences. It’s thrilling to find that science backs this hunch,” says Ola Sars, Soundtrack Your Brand’s CEO and co-founder.