One study conducted by Areni and Kim (1993) found that customers exposed to classical music as opposed to Top 40 music in a wine store spent significantly more.
This wasn’t due to a higher quantity of products purchased, but rather the selection of more expensive wines.
The conclusion here was that “music must fit the persuasion context in order to produce the desired outcome”, i.e. in a context associated with prestige and sophistication (such as a wine store), atmospheric cues such as music must facilitate that experience.
Similarly, a separate study found that, when comparing the impact of these two same genres of music in a restaurant, customers exposed to classical music, again, spent more.
The researchers reported that this was attributable to the ‘upmarket’ connotations of classical music that customers subconsciously mirrored.
While these findings can help with a business’ sales strategy, it’s important to acknowledge the simple notion that consumers are susceptible to what is sometimes referred to as ‘auditory symbolism’.
In other words, the background music played in a retail or hospitality location indicates to consumers the type of venue they’re in, and what to expect from it.
Therefore, this research not only indicates a direct influence from the genre of music on customer spend, but highlights the overall importance of well-profiled background music.