Great story about the effect of background music and sounds on consumer retail purchasing in The Economist. We briefly mention the importance of auditory stimuli when discussing the servicescape on page 99. I first became aware of the importance of this back in the late 1990s, when I met a colleague who specialised in developing and installing background music in hotels and shops. I subsequently wrote a case study about Intercontinental Hotel’s ‘sound strategy’ (published in Tourism & Hospitality Research, July 2009, 9:3, p271).
The Economist story provides some background to ‘muzak’ and goes on to report a study by eBay into the effect of music and sounds on consumer’s online purchase behaviour. It seems that even in our homes, what we buy can be affected by what we hear. The sound of roadworks discouraged people from bidding, whereas classical music encouraged them to bid more (and potentially overpay for the goods). Birdsong encourage people to bid for Bar-B-Ques, but not for other goods. Unconscious stimuli can clearly have a significant effect on consumers.