Have you ever walked out of a store because it was playing ear-piercing music, or lingered a little longer in one that had your favorite song on blast? If so, you already understand what science knows: background music impacts shopping behaviors. Humans’ connection with music is so strong that getting your spa or salon playlist right does more than set the vibe and boost the mood, it also inspires spending. If you’re looking to ramp up product sales or amplify your retail offering, switching up your music may be the way to go. Here’s how to do it.
Industry • Best Practice
It's All About the Benjamins: How the Right Music Gets Clients Spending
Setting the vibe is about more than just ambiance — it also subtly encourages your beauty business clientele to reach into their wallets.
Get the vibe right
Bringing in big bucks is all down to getting the vibe right. Decades of research have shown that selecting the right mix of musical genre, tempo, and volume will encourage customer spending, but that doesn’t mean there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. In one study, a wine store saw spending increase while classical music was playing compared to Top 40 hits. In another, romantic music encouraged spending in a flower shop. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that classical or romantic music will boost spending across the board —they may not be the right choice for a punk rock hair salon or a meditative new age spa, for example.
That’s why it’s important to tap into your vibe first. Getting the vibe right requires you to understand your salon or spa’s brand personality. Take cues from your design choices to make sure your playlist matches your beauty business’ visual aesthetic. If you don’t find the balance between shopping motivation and on-brand musical choices, you’ll risk creating a disjointed experience that leaves customers confused instead of comfortable.
We are what we listen to
As a counterpart to considering your company’s identity, take some time to think about the predominant personality of your clientele. Do your clients fall into a general age bracket, background, or gender category? Understanding the demographics of your customer base can help you find the right music to motivate them. What would they be listening to if they were at home relaxing or driving across town instead of visiting your beauty business?
Take those discoveries as a point of inspiration for your musical selections, not an endpoint. While it’s a good idea to play music that your customers can relate to, try to match the vibe instead of searching for their favorite tunes. Research has shown that when customers recognize specific songs, they perceive time as passing faster and therefore spend less time shopping. Aiming to create a general mood that your clientele will appreciate will let the music work its magic in the background instead of overshadowing the shopping experience.
Timing is everything
The perception of time makes a big difference to how and why people spend money, which is why tempo is such an important part of an ideal shopping playlist. Fast-paced, up-tempo music inspires customers to move through stores faster, making snap decisions and focusing on only what they need most or what they came for in the first place. By contrast, slower, down-tempo music encourages lingering. Creating a laid back, leisurely ambiance that people want to spend time in leads them to shop for longer and spend more when all is said and done.
With that said, make sure you don’t climb over the down-tempo threshold into the territory of slow music that is sad. Your goal isn’t to lull customers to sleep or depress their day, you want to use relaxed rhythms to keep clients comfortable, cheerful, and ready to spend.
Goldilocks the volume
Back in the 60s, researchers discovered that shoppers will leave a store if the music is too loud, but will spend less if it’s too soft. That’s why a Goldilocks approach is the way to go; aim to set your volume so it’s not too loud and not too soft, but juuuuust right. Although you’re putting a lot of focus on your playlist, most clients won’t even realize that there’s music playing if it’s at the ideal volume. Background music should be a subtle influence, a gentle nudge in the shopping direction, not a big flashing sign that detracts from the overall experience.
Read the room
Your beauty brand’s background music should also grow and change over time. Read the room to make sure your playlist is vibing the way you want it to, and when in doubt, ask your team. Stylists, assistants, and managers are all in a good position to understand how clients’ mood is being affected by the ambiance. It’s also probably wise to prepare a few different playlists, albums, or general moods you can deploy based on how things are feeling inside your salon or spa and what’s going on in the world outside. Consider factors like:
Time of day: Clients probably need a gentle boost to help get them going in the morning, while afternoons call for mellow sounds that slow down stress.
Weather: Counteract the rainy day blues with something a little more upbeat from a tropical part of the world.
Season: Think about how the time of year impacts the kind of music clients want to hear while they’re shopping, like Christmas music or a summer fun playlist.
Clientele: If you host private events or group bookings to celebrate special occasions, create a custom playlist based on their personalities or their party needs.
Preparing more than one perfect playlist does double duty for your salon business, too — in addition to getting clients in the mood to spend, you’ll keep things fresh for your team. Hearing the same set of songs day in and day out can get old quickly, so you’ll also want to pay attention to your music for productivity’s sake. When your customers are shopping and your team is grooving, you’ll know you’ve hit the right notes.
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