22nd May 2017 KVHstudios

Instore Music Choice: Why It Matters And How It Influences Customers.

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How instore music influences customers How instore music influences customers

Just how does the psychology of music, and individual taste, affect how people respond to what they hear? Even the reactions of other people around them can have a massive impact. So, let’s understand a bit more of what makes people (musically) tick…


“Did you find everything you were looking for?” goes one of the usual pleasantries at the checkout. If a customer feels they couldn’t find the switch to turn a business’s music off, that’s a problem.

Only a very small percentage of people will actually complain, the rest will simply leave the store, and often, they won’t come back. So, if your music choice gets comments, you know you will actually have affected many more people before it is even mentioned.


Aim to strike a balance; think about who you want to engage, and what do you want to encourage them to do? If you want to get the music right, get the professionals to help.

The psychology of musical tastes and the responses that they induce are very complicated indeed. Science is only just getting to grips with the what, how, when and why of musical reactions, but stores and shops need to get it right today.


Psychology of instore music

Instore music psychology

Music is heard by people daily and affects us in various ways, from changes in emotional regulation, to cognitive development, along with providing a means for self-expression.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the links between individual personality and music preferences. The darker the soul, the more likely to want Marilyn Manson not Marilyn Monroe…so far, so obvious.

So, what are the “Big Five” personality traits? Psychologists generally break personality down into these five core categories:

  1. openness to experience
  2. conscientiousness
  3. extraversion
  4. agreeableness
  5. neuroticism

With a correlation between personality and musical preferences, as they mark the emotional effect music has on people. Individual personality differences can help predict the emotional intensity and “valence” – or the good vibes derived from the music.


Top 5 instore music tips

Top 5 instore music tips

Delving deep into the minds and psyche of customers, to understand what the response of personality types would likely be to certain strains of instore radio or music, we find that:

Openness to experience: Of all the Big Five traits, “openness to experience” has been shown to have the greatest effect upon musical genre preference. People who rate high in this trait generally tend to prefer more music which would be more complex and unusual.

Being “open” they like classical, jazz, and intense and rebellious music. Such personality types often perceive themselves to be intelligent, and they tend to have higher emotionally intense reactions to sad and slow music. Perhaps as expected, they do not prefer popular forms of contemporary music, so NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC 87 on permanent repeat is not going to cut it with this group.

Conscientiousness: Conscientiousness is a personality trait characterised by organisation, purposeful action, self-discipline, and a drive to achieve.

Conscientiousness is negatively correlated with intense and rebellious music, such as rock and heavy metal music. People with this trait do not tend to relax or let their hair down. They will likely be focused on the task in hand, so getting the shopping done or finding that new outfit. There is little time or space for frippery in the conscientious mind.

Extraversion: People who are high in extroversion tend to seek out social stimulation and opportunities to engage with others. These individuals are often described as being full of life, energy and positivity. Get the musical vibe right in the store, and these lot will be dancing in the (shopping) aisles.

In group situations, such extroverts are likely to talk often and assert themselves, they will be singing along, they will be smiling at other customers, and they will generally be lifting the mood according to the songs being played on the instore radio.

Extraversion is a great predictor of music genre preference and music use. Energetic extroverts have been linked to preferences in happy, upbeat and conventional music, as well as energetic and rhythmic music, such as rap, hip hop, soul, electronic, and dance music.

Additionally, extroverts listen to a lot of music, and have background music present in their lives more often. They are more likely than others to listen to music in the background while doing other activities, such as running, being with friends, or studying. This group also tends to use music to counter the monotony of everyday tasks. For the extroverts, instore radio and music is ideal.

Agreeableness: Agreeable individuals are people with a high level of amicability, sociability and kindness. In personality tests they are usually warm, friendly, and tactful. They generally have an optimistic view of human nature and get along well with others.

They sound lovely, and so they tend to prefer upbeat and conventional music. They want to be happy and make others comfortable too. Additionally, listeners with high agreeableness displayed an intense emotional response to music which they had never before listened to.

Neuroticism: Neuroticism is a long-term tendency to be in a negative emotional state. People with neuroticism tend to have more depressed moods – they suffer from feelings of guilt, envy, anger, and anxiety more frequently and more severely than other individuals. Neuroticism is the state of being neurotic.

The more neurotic a person is, the less likely they are to listen to intense and rebellious music (such as rap, rock and heavy metal); they will likely prefer upbeat and conventional music, such as country, sound tracks, and pop music. They don’t like surprises, and that translates to their music too.

Those who score high in neuroticism tests are more likely to use of music for emotional regulation and experience higher intensity of emotional affect, especially negative emotion. So, keep the instore music light and frothy. Those with neuroticism are not likely to like new romantics, which is a psychology joke for you to enjoy.

Choose your instore music carefully, there are deep psychological issues behind whether people sing or sulk, laugh or buy.

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