Music is amazing. We use it to enhance the mood, bring back lost memories and even form new ones. But one thing I’ve discovered is that music can be extremely effective in driving away customers.
That’s right, driving away customers. I was in the city and a lifetimeaway from my favourite coffee shop. With a pocket full of change and a head full of ache, I would have given my money to just about anyone for a cup of brown liquid that even resembled coffee!
Then in my coffeeless desert, an oasis appeared. An oasis in the form of a cool coffee cart outside a music shop. The girls behind the cashier were gorgeous and pierced. The menu was scrawled on blackboard surrounded by cargo timber and posters of bands I’ve never heard of. However, as I approached, something strange happened. The closer I got, the less I wanted their coffee.
They had two speakers either side of the register, blasting customers with a face full of high tempo prog rock. I was instantly repelled. But I still soldiered on, grabbed a fistful of change and asked for a flat white to go. “What?!” yelled the cashier. I repeated my order. “You’re going to have to speak up!” She couldn’t hear me over the music. I could feel my face flushing with frustration.
Years ago, I would have grit my teeth and sucked it up. But on that day, I jammed my coins back into my pocket and stormed off without another word.
I’ve noticed this more recently; restaurants, cafes and retail stores all playing music just loud enough so that customers are made to repeat themselves. Is this because the store managers don’t know any better? Does the loud music help keep them awake? Or is it a ploy to move customers through the store quicker? A quick Google search for Millman retail music research will reveal that individuals tend to stay longer when listening to slow tempo tracks when compared with the fast tempo alternative. Food for thought.