Sounds like a healthy retail atmospheric strategy: Effects of ambient music and background noise on food sales

Abstract

Retail atmospherics is becoming an increasingly important strategic tool for stores and restaurants. Ambient music and background noise are especially important atmospheric elements given their ubiquity in retail settings. However, there is high variation in the volume of ambient music and background noise, with some stores/restaurants having very loud ambience and others having very quiet ambience. Given the variation in loudness levels at stores/restaurants, and the managerial ease of adjusting volume level, we investigate the consequences of ambient music (and background noise) volume on food choices and sales. A pilot study, two field experiments, and five lab studies show that low (vs. high or no) volume music/noise leads to increased sales of healthy foods due to induced relaxation. In contrast, high volume music/noise tends to enhance excitement levels, which in turn leads to unhealthy food choices.

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Correspondence to Dipayan Biswas.

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Biswas, D., Lund, K. & Szocs, C. Sounds like a healthy retail atmospheric strategy: Effects of ambient music and background noise on food sales. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 47, 37–55 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-018-0583-8

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Keywords

  • Retail atmospherics
  • Sensory marketing
  • Ambient music
  • Food sales
  • Healthy and unhealthy foods