Will M&S regret switching off its in-store music?

Will M&S regret switching off its in-store music?

The recent decision Marks & Spencer took to stop playing music in its stores may be met with mixed feelings. Some might welcome the peace and quiet as they shop, but it could be the death knell for stores that are already too quiet.

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In store music: setting the mood

There’s no doubt that music can influence our mood, and our mood influences the way we behave. Various studies suggest that music influences what people buy, along with how much they are willing to spend.

An expert in the psychology of music, Professor Adrian North, explains how music influences the way people shop. Classical music will encourage customers to spend more money, he says, while slower-paced music will influence them to spend more time browsing. Behavioural scientist Patric Fagan explains how people can be primed by music. The most obvious example is that by playing Christmas music, people will be more likely to by Christmas-related products.

Peace and quiet

However, an M&S spokesperson said that the decision to cut the music was a result of some extensive research, in addition to feedback from staff and customers. A separate study undertaken on behalf of Action on Hearing Loss found that more than four in five people who have hearing difficulties said that they were frustrated by background music, and as many as a third of people generally didn’t like background music.

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Companies specialising in providing background music for stores such as https://moodmedia.co.uk/in-store-music-for-business/ know that using music to intentionally create a controlled experience for customers is a skill in itself.

It takes skill to find the appropriate music to deliver a customer experience that will maximise revenue, but there is also a skill in knowing when silence is the best background. Julian Treasure, the chairman of Sound Agency, a designer of sound for brands and retailers, says that stores aimed at a specific type of customer, such as a youth fashion outlet, benefit from playing specific types of music. However, finding the right music for stores like M&S, where the client base is broader, is more difficult, and silence can be a better alternative.

In its efforts to turn around its recent lacklustre performance, switching off the music may not be as bad a decision for M&S as some may think.

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