‘It’s Christmas, let’s whack some Slade on! ’
Leading up to Christmas, and throughout the holiday season, it’s befitting for retailers to play Christmas music. While it seems the obvious thing to do, believe it or not there’s a science behind it.
Eric Spangenberg, Ph.D, dean of the College of Business at Washington State University, who has studied the influence of music on holiday shopping, found that “holiday appropriate music can influence shoppers by increasing the amount of time spent in a store, their intention to revisit it, and intention to purchase.” He goes on to explain that some types of music work better than others, “Slower tempo music slows down shoppers, and they spend more time and money in store. Faster-paced music moves people through the store quicker than retailers would like.”*
Readers of our blog will know this also applies to music in general; so if everyday music has the same effect, why should stores make the effort to play Christmas music? It all boils down to Christmas music having the added benefit of seasonal relevance, which has an uplifting effect on shoppers. Have you ever seen Christmas lights, or smelled mulled wine, and suddenly ‘felt all Christmassy’? Christmas music has the same effect; it raises people’s spirits and creates an urge of excitement.
Christmas music also transforms the feel of a store, providing a richer, more engaging customer experience, which ties back to music increasing the amount of time spent in store and the likeliness to revisit.
There are do’s and don’ts when playing Christmas music. First of all you don’t want to play it prematurely because, as with any music, if you hear it too often it gets repetitive and can have an adverse effect on customer’s mood. Victoria Williamson, Ph.D, who conducts research on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths, University of London says, “there’s a U-shaped relationship between the amount of times we hear music that we like and our subsequent reaction to it.
First we like it a bit, then we like it more and more until it hits a peak. And then we crash down – we have overheard it. That’s when boredom and annoyance of the same sound hits home.”* As a rule of thumb, you should save playing Christmas music until December.
And secondly there is a vast amount of Christmas music out there, such as classical, winter wonderland music, through to cheesier, more jovial tunes, so you can select a style that is still in keeping with your store’s persona. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to play Slade!